Survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor gathered for the 73rd an - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor gathered for the 73rd anniversary

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Survivors gather to "Preserve the Memory" of the attack on Pearl Harbor 73 years ago. Survivors gather to "Preserve the Memory" of the attack on Pearl Harbor 73 years ago.
(CNN) -

Survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor gathered for the 73rd anniversary.

The sun was barely up when veterans and survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack trickled in slowly for Sunday's 73rd Anniversary Ceremony.

Overlooking the USS Arizona Memorial, the ceremony was moving, powerful.

There was the moment of silence as USS Chung-Hoon drifted past the ceremony, part of the salute to the nearly 100 Pearl Harbor and World War II survivors present.

The vintage plane flyby by Pacific warbirds.

A date which will live in infamy: the now famous statement President Roosevelt used at the time to describe the attack. For most of us, it speaks great conviction, but what does it really mean to the few remaining survivors?

Four of the nine surviving sailors on the USS Arizona were present, and other brave men and women who lived through that day.

Alfred Rodrigues, a Pearl Harbor Survivor said, "I had a 30-caliber rifle shooting at the plane with. They were coming as low as these palm trees over here, and you could see the pilots' faces. Initially, we were scared. Naturally. But after all, you had to protect yourself."

Rodrigues was joined by his friend, fellow army veteran and pearl harbor survivor, Herb Weatherwax.

He'll proudly tell you he is 97-years and six-months-old.

Herb Weatherwax, a Pearl Harbor Survivor said, "I have two and a half more years to be 100 years old, and I intend to come here and continue coming here."

It's hard to listen to what these men experienced.

Herb Weatherwax, a Pearl Harbor Survivor said, "The sky was so black, you could hardly see anything."

There are also survivors who were children at the time.

The youngest is 73.

Mary Ellen Smith, a Pearl Harbor Survivor said, "In my baby memory, I'm sure I have a picture of the red circle up there."

At age three-and-a-half, Lee Sandefer remembers his mother preparing popcorn balls for his older brother's birthday, and then, he recalls his family cramming into a car, searching for shelter as bombs dropped overhead, buildings exploding and burning to a crisp.

Lee Sandefer, a Pearl Harbor Survivor said, "If you ask did we realize the tragedy or how severe the incident is, it's no. We were all naive people. Just naive."

All survivors wish to "Preserve the Memory", a commitment to ensure future generations will always remember the service and sacrifice military and civilians made on December 7, 1941, and in the war that followed.

Mary Ellen Smith, a Pearl Harbor Survivor said, "Yes, it will live in infamy, because we all have to remember it."

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