The Suncoast remembers

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Posted: Friday, December 7, 2012 5:48 pm | Updated: 5:56 pm, Fri Dec 7, 2012.

Friday marks the 71st anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. Thousands of Americans lost their lives in the Japanese surprise. Hundreds of thousands more in the years to follow during World War Two.

We found one group in North Port remembering.

71 years later a ceremony at AM/VETS Post 312. Part time Venice resident John Ptacek Jr. was in the Marines when the bombs dropped. "It changed the world."

A ring of the bell for each of the battleships damaged or destroyed. "It was a shock. We all knew a war was eminent."

Taps for the nearly 2,500 Americans who lost their lives. "With them playing taps today you can't help but have the tears roll down your eyes."

In the coming years more than 400,000 Americans would die in the war. Ptacek earned nine purple hearts. "I had nine close calls."

Also earning the navy cross for rescuing men in battle. At the end he was on the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri when the Japanese surrendered in 1945. "We still were not sure of the Japanese with their surrender. The military in Japan did not want to surrender."

Taking with him a souvenir from a Japanese battleship he still holds to this day. "I was able to get Yamamoto's sextant and rescue it. Bring it back to the United States where it belonged."

Stories of triumphs and tragedies not lost here on this day. "We remember. We still remember very vividly."

Friday in Hawaii there was a moment of silence followed by a fly-over, marking the exact time when the bombing began.

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