Fort Riley, Kansas

 

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Pearl Harbor anniversary remembered at music concert

By Maria Childs | 1ST INF. DIV. POST | December 16, 2016

     “Tora, Tora, Tora.”

     These three words were used by Japanese pilots to signify they had achieved 100 percent surprise on Dec. 7, 1941. The attack lasted about 110 minutes and 2,335 U.S. service members were lost.

     This year, members of the Fort Riley community gathered at the Peace Memorial Auditorium Dec. 7 in Manhattan, Kansas, to remember the 101 Riley County men lost during World War II. A variety of musical groups including the 1st Infantry Division Band played for those in attendance.

     “I was a junior in high school and I grew up on a farm down in White City,” said Jim Sharp, a WWII veteran. “On a Sunday afternoon, we were sitting there listening to the radio when the announcement came across the radio that the Japanese were bombing Pearl Harbor. Those six words impacted my life to this very day.”

     He decided to join the military with his friends after hearing that news. Sharp served in the Battle of the Bulge during WWII. He said he was lucky to be alive when the war was over.

     “I’m glad I went and I’m glad I fought for my country,” he said.

     For the concert, Sharp partnered with Laurie Davis, music director for the program, to invite more than 70 WWII veterans including Kansas Sen. Bob Dole. Dole was unable to attend, but Sharp read a letter Dole sent to the event organizers.

     “Like every other American who lived through the historic events of Dec. 7, 1941, I will never forget where I was and how it affected my life and the life of our nation,” the letter read. “This attack brought us into World War II and that war ended with the United States taking its place as the leader of the free world … If you ask veterans about heroism, they will tell you the real heroes never return. It is so important that Americans do not ever forget this day.”

     Sharp wore his combat infantry patch on his lapel the 101 men who the auditorium was built to remember.

     Spc. Lawrence Evans, senior producer for the 1st Infantry Division Band, attended the concert. He said they used this venue to prepare for their annual holiday concert Dec. 16 and 17 at the C.L. Hoover Opera House in Junction City, Kansas.

     “We love playing in this facility because of the history and how much it shows Fort Riley and the 1st Inf. Div. is supported in the community,” he said.

     Evans said the band is present at many events that commemorate anniversaries.

     “Anytime we get to do those events it’s especially special because it is something that connects the military and civilians,” he said.