By CAROL COMEGNO
Remember Pearl Harbor - Keep America alert. That is the motto of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. But those who survived that Japanese sneak attack say the Sept. 11 terrorist onslaught showed that the warning went unheeded.
"Be alert was the lesson of Pearl Harbor, but the country forgot it and was not prepared," said Daniel Frieson, 75, of Marlton. "It took Sept. 11 to wise us up again."
Frieson was a sailor on the battleship USS Pennsylvania that was bombed in its dry dock at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
He was one of nine Navy, Army and Marine survivors attending a 60th Pearl Harbor anniversary commemoration Wednesday on the battleship New Jersey. On the other side of the world, the United States was fighting a war against a regime in Afghanistan that has been backing and harboring terrorists.
The New Jersey, which was being built at the former Philadelphia Naval Shipyard at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, was launched in 1942 on the first anniversary of that attack. It headed to the Pacific in late 1943, where it earned nine of its 19 campaign stars for combat against the Japanese in 1944 and 1945.
"It's an enemy every bit as evil as the Pearl Harbor generation confronted," Rep. Rob Andrews, D-N.J., said Wednesday of terrorist Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida organization. Roberts was speaking from a podium above the ship's main deck to a crowd of about 700, some of them on the pier.
"The challenge is to rise to the standard set by those at Pearl Harbor," Roberts said. "For those who strike terrorism around the the world, we are sending this message loud and clear: We will find you and we will deal with you. Your day is over."
Pearl Harbor survivor and speaker Domenic Gentile of Pine Hill said he has a strong, abiding love of country. " This country is the closest thing to heaven on this mortal soil. May those who gave their lives rest in eternal tranquillity," said Gentile, a Marine who was strafed by by Japanese planes that flew over his tent in a field as bombs hit other U.S. military installations outside the harbor.
Some cried as Philomena Rose of Blackwood sang "America the Beautiful" and ``God Bless America" to end the program.
Christine Ott, 18, of Haddon Township, is one of the Camden County Vocational Technical School students in Sicklerville who make a ceremonial wreath for the event each year.
"We work hard on it, and it's great to come out to something that is in memory of a great tragedy," she said.