This marks the 89th anniversary of Rome’s official Veterans Day ceremony in the historic cemetery.
The ceremony will feature 92 year-old Bob Kerr, a Pearl Harbor survivor from Atlanta.
Kerr has made it his personal mission to tell anyone who will listen about what happened on Oahu on Dec. 7, 1941.
Originally from Punxsutawney, Pa., Kerr had hoped to play professional baseball, but after realizing that his skills were a little short of major league levels, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. Kerr said he was relieved at being assigned to the Pacific because the war at that time was taking place in Europe.
Close to 48,000 men and women were based at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese pulled off their stunning air raid. The Americans lost 3,435 casualties, more than 180 aircraft, 8 battleships, 3 light cruisers and several other vessels. Today, significantly less than 2,000 of those veterans are still alive.
Kerr, a fresh-faced soldier, was in his barracks that morning and has told audiences far and wide that he heard the Japanese Zero’s that morning but like so many others, assumed that it was U.S. Navy aircraft he was hearing.
Kerr, his company clerk, was huddled over a duty roster when the barracks was hit by the Japanese gunners and a sergeant standing right next to him was killed.
After the attack, Kerr served as a B-25 gunner and flew more than 40 missions. He made a career of service to the U.S. Army and retired in 1963.
Twenty years ago, Kerr and several of his veteran brethren returned to Honolulu where they met with a group of Japanese pilots and crewmembers. It was tense at first, but after one of the Americans walked over and placed a traditional Hawaiian lei around the neck of one of the Japanese, the former enemies were able to come together.
The Sunday ceremonies will also feature a Col. Harland Sanders look-alike, Johnny Miller, of Rome, performing the National Anthem. The Model High School band will provide music before and during the ceremony.
Following the traditional 21-gun salute, white doves will be released over the cemetery.
The commemoration will be followed by a luncheon at the Shanklin-Attaway American Legion Post 5 on Shorter Avenue.