In a ceremony held far out on the Imperial Beach Pier so all that could be heard was rolling waves and seagulls, members of the public and local military veterans gathered to remember the attack on American forces at Pearl Harbor.
More than 2,400 people died in the bombing of America's Pacific Fleet on Dec. 7, 1941.
Now in its 16th year, the remembrance ceremony was led by Charles van Valkenburgh, whose grandfather Captain Franklin van Valkenburgh, was the commanding officer of the USS Arizona.
"We must not forget their continued sacrifice and the suffering endured for each of us and our way of life. Those who perished 71 years ago at Pearl Harbor and all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, even today. They must remain alive in our minds and in our hearts until such time as peace flourishes once again," van Valkenburgh told the crowd of about 50 people.
Members of the VFW Post 5477, American Legion Post 820 and Fleet Reserve Association Branch 289 were in attendance.
The Military Honor Guard of the Army's 82nd Airborne gave a 21-gun salute and the Mar Vista High School NJROTC presented the colors.
A bell was rung in the two-bell ceremony.
"The toll of the ship's bell reminds us of the reverence we owe to our departed shipmates and comrades," said Bill Landry. "And to those who guard the honor of our country upon the sea, under the sea, in the air and upon foreign soil."
Taps was played and flower lays and bouqets were then thrown into the ocean.
Fleet Reserve Association Southwest Region President Michael Frontz drove from El Cajon to attend the 8 a.m. ceremony.
Frontz enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1958 and went to boot camp at the former Naval Training Center in Point Loma, now known as Liberty Station.
He was only three-years-old when Pearl Harbor took place, but remembers going to see Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in St. Paul, MN with his mother for his seventh birthday the day the Japanese declared a truce and fighting came to an end Aug. 14, 1945.
"We came out of the movie, and the streets were just like pictures in New York," he said. "People were flashing their lights and screaming and hugging each other," he said.
Americans should continue to remember what happened at Pearl Harbor, he said, for the "same reason they should remember 9/11: we were attacked. Hawaii was not a state yet then, but it was under our control and our protection."