A beacon of remembrance — the beacon atop Mount Diablo — will be lit Monday evening honoring those who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor 89 years ago.
The annual ceremony will feature three local survivors of the Dec. 7, 1941, attack that brought the U.S. fully into World War II. Due to COVID-19, the event will be virtual, starting at 4:30 p.m., and can be accessed on YouTube.
“This year it is especially important that we come together as a nation to honor National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day and those who served,” said Ted Clement, executive director of sponsoring group Save Mount Diablo. Other sponsors include California State Parks and Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors Chapter 5.
“Reflecting on that day and the aftermath reminds us of the strength of the nation when we come together even amid great adversity,” Clement said in a statement.
In a 45-minute video filmed atop Mount Diablo, three East Bay survivors of the attack will share their experiences of that fateful day: Mickey Ganitch, who served on the USS Pennsylvania; Clarence Byal, USS St. Louis; and Earl “Chuck” Kohler, Ford Island. After additional remarks, the beacon will be lighted.
“Reflecting on that day and the aftermath reminds us of the strength of the nation when we come together even amid great adversity.”Ted Clement, Save Mount Diablo
“When that beacon light is turned on, that’s a tribute to those who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor,” said Kohler, a Concord resident.
As a rallying cry during the pandemic, Save Mount Diablo has been lighting the beacon every Sunday since Easter Sunday, April 12, this year. The beacon is normally lit only once a year, for the Pearl Harbor ceremony.
The beacon wasn’t lit on Sunday, Nov. 29 or Sunday, Dec. 6 to build anticipation for Monday’s National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. After the Dec. 7 ceremonial lighting of the beacon, Save Mount Diablo will resume the weekly lightings until the pandemic ends.
“Lighting the beacon every Sunday is a way to honor our heroes in this pandemic struggle, to pay our respects to the dead … and be reminded of the healing power of nature and our Mount Diablo,” Clement said.
Originally, the beacon lighted the way for commercial airplanes in the 1920s. After Pearl Harbor, it was doused.
The beacon shone again as a tribute to Pearl Harbor survivors on Dec. 7, 1964, when the practice of lighting it every year on that date began.