In honor of the American servicemen lost at Pearl Harbor 76 years ago, Watertown veteran Ralph Ricci threw a wreath into the Charles River on Thursday afternoon.
The wreath laying was part of the Pearl Harbor Commemoration held at the dock in Watertown Square Thursday. Ricci was still a boy when the attacks occurred in 1941, but he has a clear memory.
“We didn’t have TV then. Back then there was movie theater over the bridge (on Galen Street) and I was coming out of there and a kid was yelling ‘Extra! Extra! Japs bomb Pearl Harbor!'” Ricci said. “We didn’t know what Pearl Harbor was then but we certainly learned fast.”
Ricci served in the Third Army in Europe in 1945 and is a member of the AmVets Post 41. He said he was not sure why he was chosen to throw the wreath in the river.
“I have done it the last couple years. I guess because I’m the oldest one here,” said Ricci, who is 90.
The ceremony has been held in Watertown for the last 10 years or so, and started under former Veterans Services Agent Bob Erickson. Current Vets Agent Mark Comeiro has kept it going.
“This is an opportunity to honor the sacrifice and dedication that the Greatest Generation, both civilian and military, showed on Dec. 7, 1941,” Comeiro said during the ceremony. “A day that will live in infamy.”
During the attack by planes of the Japanese Navy, 2,403 Americans were killed and more than 1,000 were injured. At least two Watertown residents were at Pearl Harbor that day, including Philip Zane Darch who was killed on the Battleship U.S.S. Arizona. A road in West Watertown is named in honor of Darch. Christopher Hursh survived the attack and returned to Watertown. He passed away in 2012.
Comeiro said across the country on Dec. 7 wreaths are laid on memorials and placed into bodies of water, including at the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
“It is very important to recognize the significance of Pearl Harbor,” Comeiro said. “If you look around town, flags have been lowered to half staff by order of the President.”
A reception was held for the veterans at Town Hall following the ceremony.