Beacon on Mt. Diablo lit for Pearl Harbor Day

December 7, 2011 2:48:09 PM PST
One night a year, a beacon atop Mount Diablo is lit at sunset and shines all night in memory of Pearl Harbor Day.

Survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor plan to meet this afternoon on top of Mount Diablo to remember what happened on this day in 1941 and to light the beacon on the summit.

Since 1964, the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, whose numbers dwindle every year, has lit the summit beacon, known as the "Eye of Diablo."

According to Ron Brown, executive director of the nonprofit Save Mount Diablo, which co-sponsors the annual event, said the beacon was originally built in 1928 to encourage commercial aviation by aiding night flights.

It was turned off in 1941 after the attacks, but, according to the nonprofit, Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz -- who was the commander in chief of Pacific forces during World War II -- relit the beacon in 1964 and suggested re-illuminating it annually as a memorial.

Several hundred people are expected to attend the 47th annual ceremony, which begins at 3:45 p.m. with a program that includes retellings of the actual experiences of survivors in attendance, Brown said.

"Frequently we see many families with small children, the parents wanting their children to be able to hear the stories of the veterans and what they went through at Pearl Harbor," he said.

The beacon-lighting ceremony is one of several events taking place today around the Bay Area to commemorate the sacrifice of American soldiers.

Aboard the USS Hornet aircraft carrier museum, Navy veteran Ed Silveira, an eyewitness to the attack, was scheduled to speak at a special 1 p.m. ceremony.

Silveira, who is now almost 90, was 19 years old when he was aboard the USS San Francisco on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, as the warship waited to dry dock at Pearl Harbor.

The Hornet's resident chaplain John Berger will offer a special service to honor the memory of those whose lives were lost. A wreath-tossing ceremony will follow, according to a publicist for the museum.

The museum is permanently berthed at Pier 3, 707 W. Hornet Ave. in Alameda.

Earlier today also in Alameda, the U.S. Coast Guard hosted seven Pearl Harbor survivors during a 9 a.m. ceremony at Coast Guard Island.

The events involved a ceremonial wreath hanging at 9:55 a.m., marking the start of the surprise military strike conducted by the Japanese navy against the U.S. naval base.


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