Remembering Pearl Harbor: an ALA Junior Plans Special Public Ceremony

It’s been 76 years since the December 7th bombing attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, and it’s still important for us to never forget that infamous event ­– so much so that the U.S. Congress designated Dec. 7 as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

Each Dec. 7, events are held throughout the nation to honor and remember the 2,403 servicemembers and civilians killed, and the 1,178 people injured, in the bombing.

One of those remembrance ceremonies last year – on the 75th anniversary of the attack – was organized by 16-year-old American Legion Auxiliary Junior member MacKayla McDaniels of Hornell, N.Y. She was 15 at the time of the well-attended ceremony, which was held in Hornell. She started planning that event two years in advance.

“The motivation was my grandfather Mac who served in World War II. I wanted all veterans to be recognized,” MacKayla said in a report published by The Patriot Ledger newspaper.

MacKayla’s grandfather is Paul B. (Mac) McDaniels, who served in World War II. Also serving in WWII was her great-grandfather, Hilliard Cleveland.

McDaniels PH day blog cropped 12.5.17
ALA Junior MacKayla McDaniels lays a wreath at a gravesite as part of a separate personal tribute. Photo by Bobbie Jo Hooker-Haley          

“God, citizenship, peace, and security … that’s the way we feel about those who are absent. We do not consider them gone. In reality, they are very close to us, giving us strong incentive to carry on our mission for peace and better purpose,” MacKayla said, addressing an audience of more than 100 people at the ceremony. Local officials and community members also spoke at the event. “The highest tribute we can render, the most profound respect we can demonstrate is to apply to our own lives the strong faith and undaunted courage which was theirs,” MacKayla added.

MacKayla’s mother, Colleen, talked about her daughter’s efforts in planning the ceremony during an interview with The Patriot Ledger newspaper.

“I’m very proud of MacKayla for her dedication over three years and honoring her grandfather Mac and great-grandfather Hilliard,” Colleen said.

Not everyone can put together a remembrance ceremony as MacKayla did. But we can all, individually or as a group, do one simple thing: Remember. Remember what happened at the Pearl Harbor naval base that infamous day. And remember the lives lost there – 2,403 servicemembers and civilians killed, plus the 1,178 people injured.

Dec. 7, 1941, was a day when a horrific thing happened. But it’s a day that no American should ever forget.

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