Brittney Burns – Staff Writer
On Dec. 7, 1941, the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was attacked by the Japanese at 7:48 a.m. Three hundred and fifty three Imperial Japanese fighter planes, bombers, and torpedo planes launched from six aircraft carries attacked the navy base in two waves.
The attack damaged all eight U.S. navy battleships, sinking four of them. The attack also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, and an anti-aircraft training ship and one minelayer. One hundred and eighty-eight U.S. aircrews were destroyed. The attack killed 2,402 Americans and wounded another 1,778 and served as the United States’ entry into World War II.
With the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor coming up this December, the Franklin High School Booster Club decided to dedicate this year’s “Salute the Veterans” program to those who were serving in the military the day Pearl Harbor was attacked.
“I was stationed at Pearl Harbor 50 years ago and was able to visit there again this year,” said Tommy Cabe, member of the Franklin High School Booster and veteran. “It doesn’t seem like it’s been 75 years ago.”
Cabe said that as a veteran he has seen a shift in younger generations who seem to take notice of his military hats and thank him and shake his hand.
“For a veteran, to see young people do it, to thank you for your service, it just makes you feel you good and it matters,” said Cabe. “These events are important to make sure we keep teaching that to the younger folks.”
Ahead of Friday night’s football game against the Smoky Mountain Mustangs, all veterans in both Macon and Jackson counties are invited to join members of the Franklin High School Booster Club on the track at 6:20 p.m. While all veterans will be recognized, a special recognition will be made for those military personnel that were serving on that fateful day of Dec. 7, 1941.
“We have asked family and friends who know of military personnel from Jackson and Macon County to let us know the names of military personnel who were serving on Dec. 7,” said Rhonda Blanton with the Franklin High Booster Club. “So far we have two names, Warren Guest and Red Watkins, but we would love the opportunity to honor others who served then.”
Each year, Franklin High School dedicates a football game to area veterans. FHS also invites Macon County veterans, and veterans from the opposing team to attend the game free of charge and allows them to bring one guest for free as well. The veterans are honored with a special ceremony and music performed by Blue Ridge.
“I think we should always make an effort to salute our veterans because without their service and sacrifice, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the freedoms that we do today,” said Blanton. “This year’s ceremony will be difficult for me, as it is the first time since we started the program that I will be doing it with my dad who fought in both WWII and Korean wars.”
To be able to attend the game free of charge, veterans can print out the ticket attached to this article or pick up a ticket at Franklin High School, the Franklin Chamber of Commerce, or the Veterans Affair Office in either Jackson or Macon County.
If you know of anyone that you would like to be recognized, contact Rhonda Blanton at 828-342-9464.