EASTCHESTER, N.Y. Russell Krebs was a teenager living in Mount Vernon when he heard the news that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. "I was in a luncheonette, and everyone ran into the street," Krebs said. "Everyone was crying and praying."
Dominick Paciello was drafted almost immediately and sent to Germany as part of the 288th Combat Engineers of the Ninth Army. "I was 18 years old," Paciello said. "I had just graduated from high school and I was scared stiff."
Pacieillo and Krebs were among the Veterans of Foreign War who attended a special ceremony Wednesday in honor of the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Students from Bronxville and Tuckahoe high schools traveled over to Eastchester High School to join the fellow students and members of VFW 2235 in remembering the 68 civilians and 2,500 sailors who lost their lives Dec. 7, 1941.
Krebs was too young to serve in World War II but he remembers the white stars displayed in people's windows along with the American Flag.
"Some houses had three or four white stars in the windows, which meant they had an equal number of boys serving overseas," Krebs said. "Of course, if there was a gold star, that meant a soldier had lost his life in the war." Krebs served as a Marine in Korea years after World War II.
Paciello spent 20 months overseas, where he lost a comrade. "In all the years since then, I never really reviewed what happened there," he said. "But when I think about it now, I feel that any veteran, no matter what, should be honored. Veterans offered their lives and many lost their lives."
While the veterans enjoyed the ceremony, many of them agreed that celebrations to honor veterans, such as Memorial Day parades, are often poorly attended.
"It's devastating and discouraging to see a poor turnout," said Peter Cirrincione, who served in Vietnam. "While I enjoy events like today, I worry that tomorrow will come and the veterans will be forgotten."
One student from each of the high schools aimed to let the vets know they understand the sacrifices the soldiers made and that soldiers continue to make today to ensure our freedom.
"You are the reason my family came here from Brazil," said Tuckahoe senior Hadler DeSilva. "Without you, I would not be standing here right now."
Bronxville senior Patrick Tine said the heroes of World War II represent some of the greatest heroism America has ever seen. "As part of the generation raised in plenty, we do not know of rations, blackouts and victory gardens," Tine said. "But as part of this generation, we are called upon to be the generation that will honor the heroes who suffered through unspeakable misery for our freedom."
Eastchester senior Abigail Orlando said those who served in World War II not only displayed heroism on the battlefield, but came home and raised families.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.