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Pearl Harbor remembered in Brainerd

Seventy years later, Pearl Harbor and the brave souls who were killed are still in our memories and they will not be forgotten in the Brainerd lakes area.

On a crisp, sunny Wednesday morning, the Brainerd American Legion and VFW conducted a brief ceremony honoring the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

The Brainerd color guard lined up holding the flags, while the veterans fired the 21-gun military salute honoring the dead.

Military taps was played. A handful of people attended the ceremony held in front of the All Veterans Memorial next to the Crow Wing County Historic Courthouse.

Veteran Jim Kounkel, 84, took part of the military gun salute.

“I was 14 years old when Pearl Harbor was attacked,” Kounkel said in an interview after the ceremony. “I was sledding at my cousin’s house on South Long Lake when it happened ... My folks told us about what happened.

“I knew exactly what had happened. I had two brothers-in-law who were in the Army.”

When Kounkel found out the news, he said, “I knew that it was going to be bad and I felt sorry for the guys who were going.”

Kounkel served in World War II from 1944-47. He was in the Headquarters, Sixth Division, 20th Armed Infantry, Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon.

Kounkel has been part of the Pearl Harbor ceremonies for a long time. He said the ceremonies bring up a lot of bad memories that he does not want to remember, but it also brings up some ”good stuff” too.

Kounkel said his son was in the Vietnam War, his granddaughter was in the 10th Mountain Division of the Army; and his great grandson is currently deployed in Kuwait on his second tour.

“Man do I feel old,” he said.

President Obama Wednesday signed a proclamation honoring National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

The proclamation states: “We honor the more than 3,500 Americans killed or wounded during that deadly attack and pay tribute to the heroes whose courage ensured our nation would recover from this vicious blow. Their tenacity helped define the Greatest Generation and their valor fortified all who served during World War II. As a Nation, we look to Dec. 7, 1941, to draw strength from the example set by these patriots and to honor all who have sacrificed for our freedoms.”

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at or 855-5851.