By David Schuman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A ceremony that included a flyover was held Monday to honor and remember the 79th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. The Japanese attack took 2,402 American lives.

The event was closed to the public to protect attending survivors and veterans.

When the United States declared war the following day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called Dec. 7 “a day which will live in infamy.”

The anniversary is always an emotional day for Steven Garty of Maple Grove. His father, Richard, was a teenage Marine stationed at Pearl Harbor during the attack.

Steven learned the story of what happened from his dad when he was very young.

“Him and this guy were peeling potatoes at the mess hall,” Steven said. “They hear all the commotion, and they kind of see it, because they’re way up on the hill. They were shooting at the planes. And the next day he was picking up bodies.”

Corporal Garty survived, but 26 of the more than 4,100 Americans killed or wounded were from Minnesota.

“Those are the kinds of things I think about: the sacrifice, the ability for them to be able to defend our country and give us the freedoms we live with today,” said Larry Herke, the commissioner of Minnesota’s Department of Veteran Affairs.

Steven Garty says he didn’t truly understand the gravity of the events at Pearl Harbor until he was there with his father for the 60th anniversary in 2001.

“These kids that were there during the attack — they were still around to talk about it,” Steven said.

Richard Garty instilled in his son a profound respect for the military, and in conversation about it, Steven Garty’s pride in his father’s role in history is apparent.

“There’s so many of the generation out there that really has no clue,” he said. “Never forget.”

Richard Garty, who also served in Vietnam and Korea, died in 2016.

The Department of Veteran Affairs has grant money available for veterans struggling during the pandemic. Almost $5 million has been distributed. Visit www.minnesotaveteran.org to apply.

David Schuman