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Pearl Harbor Survivors Light The Way On Mount Diablo

Survivors of the 1941 attack flip the switch to turn on the mountain's beacon for its annual one-day lighting

It was a simple function that represented so much.

Five survivors of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor all stood at the entrance of the summit building atop Mount Diablo and flipped a small switch.

With that, the beacon on top of the summit building lit up and began to spin around.

Every Dec. 7 since 1964, survivors of the attack by Japanese aircraft on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, have helped light the Mount Diablo beacon for one day in remembrance of those who died in those attack and those who survived it.

Before the beacon was lit, the five survivors sat along with nearly 100 others in the basement of the summit building to recall that fateful day that thrust the United States into World War II against Japan, Germany and Italy.

Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary O'Donnell, a Danville resident, told the survivors they and the others that witnessed that attack bravely upheld the Coast Guard motto of "duties faithfully performed."

O'Donnell also read from President Franklin Roosevelt's address to Congress the day after the attack.

"Seventy-one years later, the Pearl Harbor attack has lived up to the president's description as a day of infamy," she said.

Five of the eight members of the local chapter of Pearl Harbor Survivors told brief stories of that day. They all talked about how surprising it was and how frustrating it was to watch all the destruction the Japanese were causing to U.S. Navy ships.

The event was co-sponsored by the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors and Save Mount Diablo.

Ron Brown, executive director of Save Mount Diablo, told the crowd of his group's efforts to repair the aging beacon.

There was some concern the beacon would not light up this year. However, thanks to the work of former park ranger Burt Bogardus, the beacon lit up one more time.

And Brown promised the beacon will continue to light up year and year.

"This will be the last year we have to worry if the beacon will light," said Brown.

Rich December 08, 2012 at 04:20 AM
As I have done many times in the past, I went up in my plane and circled Mount Diablo at dusk tonight to see the beacon as it was designed to be seen, from the air. I could see a large crowd at the peak, the parking lots were full. It looks like they had a great turn-out this year.
Matt Cullum December 09, 2012 at 04:53 AM
Agreed, this is a beautiful tradition. Big thank you and kudos to Ranger Burt Bogardus!

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