The sacrifices of Minnesotans during World War II were remembered in a ceremony at Fort Snelling on Friday.
Gov. Mark Dayton has ordered all U.S. and Minnesota flags on government buildings to be flown at half-staff until sunset. Dayton's declaration of Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day commemorates those killed in the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and during World War II.
The surprise attack 77 years ago killed more than 2,400 Americans and spurred the United States' entrance into World War II.
Veterans held a memorial at Fort Snelling on Friday morning. Navy Veteran and Fort Snelling Memorial Rifle Squad member Mike Pluta said Fort Snelling is the final resting place for eight veterans who served at Pearl Harbor. He said two of the veterans were killed in action when the USS Oklahoma was sunk.
"Across the country, a key focus today is a brighter future, today we remember the attacks, but we also celebrate more than 70 years of peace with Japan," Pluta said. "Sacrifice paved the way for the peace, and we must never forget that price was paid."
Historian Richard Klobuchar has written about the USS Ward, where many sailors from Minnesota served. He got to know many Pearl Harbor veterans over monthly breakfasts in St. Paul two decades ago.
"They were simply a microcosm of the Upper Midwest, the state of Minnesota, the Twin Cities, and I believe, the entire country," Klobuchar said.
Richard Thill, 95, is one of just a few Pearl Harbor veterans left in the state. He served on the USS Ward at the time of the attack.
"I'm an old man now. I can't stand. But I salute all the veterans here too. And all the people that admire us," Thill told the crowd. "I honor them. And wish them well."
The memorial closed with the official song of each branch of the military. When the U.S. Navy's song played, Thill saluted from his wheelchair.
More than 16 million Americans, including 326,000 Minnesotans, served during the war. Tens of millions of soldiers and civilians across the world perished in the war.
Correction (Dec. 7, 2018): A previous version of this story reported an incorrect age for Thill. The story has been updated.