VERMILION — John Vargo was only 12 when Pearl Harbor was bombed on Dec. 7, 1941, but he clearly remembers the panic and fear of that day.
“Shivers went up my back … I knew something was wrong,” Vargo said, remembering how people ran from their homes, yelling about the tragedy.
Now 84, Vargo didn’t serve but is a member of AMVETS Post 22 and president of Vermilion Veterans Council. Vargo said it is important to honor war veterans, especially on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor.
On Saturday, Vargo and other Amherst and Vermilion residents gathered at the boat docks off South Street in Vermilion for a memorial ceremony hosted by the Veterans Council. The goal of the annual ceremony was to continue to honor the more than 2,000 people who died at Pearl Harbor 72 years ago Saturday.
At the ceremony, a group of veterans and supporters listened to Vargo read aloud about the fate of the USS Arizona, one of the ships bombed in the attack.
“They’re still entombed,” Vargo said of the more than 1,000 people killed in the attack, many of whom sank with the ship.
At the end of the ceremony, Cindy Rice, vice president of AMVETS Post 22, threw a wreath into the Vermilion River in a symbolic gesture.
For Vargo, who has participated and attended the ceremony each year for 15 years, said the event is an integral part of honoring a joint memory.
“We’re remembering the veterans who lost their lives that day,” Vargo said.