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Port Jeff honors vets at Pearl Harbor event
Under a gray sky and fog, Henry Plate stood on the dock in Port Jefferson Sunday morning and saluted two brightly colored wreaths he helped toss into the harbor at the annual Pearl Harbor Remembrance Ceremony.
Plate, 90, of East Setauket, who spent nearly three years stationed in the south Pacific, was one of a few remaining World War II veterans at the ceremony.
“I’m here for all those that didn’t make it this far,” Plate said.
While he proudly honored those who have gone before him, Plate said he hopes one day, ceremonies like this one are no longer needed.
“I hope they never occur, that we have no more veterans,” he said. “Killing young men and women is not the answer for world peace. We have to live in brotherhood.”
American Legion Post 432 hosted the remembrance event. During the brief ceremony, veterans from several organizations surround the monuments across from Port Jefferson Village Hall, while red, white and blue wreaths – one for each branch of the military, for prisoners of war and others – were placed against the gray stones. The last two wreaths were thrown into the harbor.
Robert Elfers, Commander of Post 432, said the annual ceremony is meant to not only thank and remember those who served in the war, but also to educate younger generations about the important event in our country’s history.
“The biggest problem is the schools,” he said. “Kids don’t know what Pearl Harbor is. They are learning from us. They should know about this.”
While most who attended the event were part of a military organization or the Boy Scouts, some families did come out to recognize local veterans.
Joanne Lombardi, of Miller Place, brought her two sons, ages 13 and 11, to the ceremony.
“I do a lot to support our veterans and I think it is important to honor the vets who have sacrificed for us to have the freedoms and rights that we do today,” she said.
Witnessing the ceremony did seem to have an impact on her boys.
“I thought it was moving,” said 13-year-old Raymond Lombardi, who added he enjoyed meeting some of the World War II vets. “I feel honored to meet them while they are still around.”