Augusta remembers its 9 Pearl Harbor survivors with new memorial

Published: Dec. 7, 2021 at 5:11 PM CST
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AUGUSTA, Wis. (WEAU) - Eighty years ago, the attack on Pearl Harbor catapulted the United States into World War II.

The Badger State sent its sons and daughters to join the fight.

“Over 300,000 Wisconsinites served in World War II and what they did and the conflict that started 80 years ago today for the United States has remade the world,” said Chris Kolakowski, director of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum.

“The United States ended the war as a super power,” added John Englesby, who’s father survived the attack on Pearl Harbor. “The world was remade because of World War II that started at Pearl Harbor for the United States.”

Wednesday, gathered in the cold and snow, a crowd remembered the lives lost in World War II and those who survived the ambush at precisely 11:55am.

“[That time is] 7:55 am in Hawaii, the exact starting time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, so it made it 80 years exactly,” explained Englesby.

For John, today embodies years of work.

Back in 2018, he sought an honor tile for his father who survived the attack on Pearl Harbor.

“On the occasions he would talk about it, I could tell he was proud of his service and I’m certainly proud of his service,” reflected Englesby.

Along the way, John learned his father was not alone.

“I and the daughter of another Pearl Harbor survivor from Augusta, we found that there were seven more.”

In all, nine survivors from a city of 1,500.

Now-- forever remembered with the placement of honor tiles.

2,335 American service members were lost in Pearl Harbor.

While words can’t always capture sorrow, Kolakowski says memorials help.

“I think actions can speak just as loudly as words,” Kolawkowski said. “In the sense that building a memorial park like this, taking time even in weather like this to come out here and remember what generations have built, have sacrificed and have left for this generation’s legacies.”

Organizers hope the new display will serve as a beacon and driving force for visitors to the park.

“The nine survivors of Pearl Harbor from this small town was a noteworthy circumstance,” Englesby added.

While anniversaries serve as a good reminder, Kolakowski hopes people will reflect more than just once a year.

“We do this every day and I would encourage Wisconsinites to do this every day,” the director said.

Just a few moments to remember those who paid the price for the cost of our freedoms.

For those interested in learning more, the Wisconsin Veterans Museum offers virtual programs for those unable to visit the Madison facility in-person.

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