Rochester ceremony remembers lives lost on ‘day of infamy’

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – At 7:55 a.m. on Dec. 7, 1941, thousands lost their lives during a bombing of the Pearl Harbor naval base.

At 7:55 a.m. on Dec. 7, 2023, veterans and local law enforcement gathered in Rochester to remember them.

Peral Harbor is often thought of as the event that brought the United States into World War II. Over 2,400 people were killed in the surprise military strike. Some of them were from Monroe County, according to speakers Thursday. 

A U.S. Navy bell was rung eight times, which can signify the end of watch and the death of a sailor. (WHEC photo)

The Monroe County Committee of the American Legion organized the ceremony using authentic WWII-era memorabilia. The event was held at the Rochester Yacht Club, which has donated their facility to the event for the past 20 years. That included a U.S. Navy bell, an icon for anyone who served. The bell was rung eight times as folks stood in silent remembrance of the fallen. In the Navy, ringing a bell eight times signifies the end of a watch, or the passing of a sailor.

Folks in attendance said it’s a tradition they’re proud to honor. One of them was veteran and American Legion member Edward Sykes.

“We lost a lot of people from here, and they need to be honored. People are forgetting.”

Edward Sykes, veteran

Michael Frosino is in the Navy Reserve Center of Rochester. He said that Pearl Harbor hits especially close to home.

“My reserve unit I served in for 10 years is based in Pearl Harbor,” Frosino said. “So I’m glad to be here. It means a lot to me and I’m sure the folks that I served with. So it’s an honor, and I’m glad that they put this ceremony together. Not every town or city around the country does, which we should.”

A ceremonial wreath was tossed into Lake Ontario at a Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony. (WHEC photo)

A ceremonial wreath was also tossed into Lake Ontario, a tradition for those who are buried — or who died — at sea. Other organizations that were present included the Irondequoit Police Department, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Vietnam Veterans of America.