As millions of Americans and Japanese pause today to reflect on the great loss life for serviceman and civilians in the attack on Pearl Harbor 65 years ago, five American veterans are taking time from their day to remind school-aged children of the sacrifices made by a previous generation.

After giving a three-hour presentation before about 150 students at West Elementary School Wednesday, U.S. military veterans George Mann, Sunny Browder, Howard Clayton, John Gissell and James Schaffran will make a stop at Addison Elementary School today.

Between them, the five former serviceman represent veterans of World War II, the Vietnam War, the Korean War and the U.S. Navy. Three of them are also Purple Heart recipients, designating them as Americans who were injured while fighting for their country.

According to Mann, today’s presentation reminds students of the significance of Pearl Harbor and in some cases gives them their first account of the battle he says so many have forgotten over the years.

“We tell them the attack lasted two hours and that ships were sunk and some of the sailor’s bodies are still at the bottom of the sea,” he said. “We also tell them stories about how when the planes came in, they were flying so low that a nurse there said she waved at one and saw the Japanese pilot wave back.”

During Wednesday’s presentation, students sang for the veterans and conducted a flag ceremony.

While Mann said they were all deeply honored by the ceremony, he also says he feels veterans need to do their parts to honor children as well.

“These will be our leaders tomorrow,” he said.

For Mann, part of honoring children means bringing the Pledge of Allegiance and prayer back to schools. It also means never letting younger generations forget how their country came to be what it is today, he said.

“I think people should stop today, salute the flag and say a prayer,” Mann said. “We may not agree with all the things our leaders do, but right or wrong, I support my country.”

In recognition of Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, Gov. Bob Riley has decreed that all flags be flown at half staff today.

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