By Melanie Patterson
North Jefferson News
FULTONDALE — More than 70 years ago, the United States was drawn into World War II following Japan’s attack on the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor.
The Dec. 7, 1941, event saw the death of 2,335 service men and women, 33 of whom were from Alabama.
On the 72nd anniversary of the attack, the city of Fultondale dedicated a memorial and giant American flag to honor the victims and heroes of Pearl Harbor.
Five World War II veterans were on hand for the ceremony, including Rubin Gray of Fultondale, who was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943 at age 18.
Gray was stationed at Pearl Harbor for 12 months, but he was not there when the base was attacked. He worked at Diamond Head, the nearby mountain “where the big guns were,” he said.
Gray’s job was to watch the incoming ships and make sure they were American vessels.
Gray’s eyes get moist when he thinks back to those who died in the war.
“This is good for the town and the people who live here,” Gray said as he stared at the big American flag, which is between Interstate 65 and the Promenade Shopping Center.
“We wanted to do something to honor our World War II veterans and all of our veterans,” said Fultondale Mayor Jim Lowery.
As part of the ceremony, the Marine Corps League presented the colors and raised the flag. Ron Haygood of American Legion Post 255 presented the memorial, Darrell Bates sang the National Anthem, the Fultondale High School band played “God Bless America” and Jeff Jones played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes for the benediction.
The Pearl Harbor flag is the second one the city has erected next to the interstate. Last year, city leaders dedicated a flag and monument to honor the victims of 9-11.
Lowery, who is also a military veteran, said the city plans to put three more big flags and memorials along the interstate to honor those who served in Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East.