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Pearl Harbor Day beacon lighting returns to Mount Diablo

Ceremony will feature area's last surviving World War II veteran

The longstanding beacon on Mount Diablo will be featured in the annual lighting ceremony on Pearl Harbor Rememberance Day (Dec. 7). (Image courtesy Save Mount Diablo)

The beacon that has sat atop Mount Diablo since its installation before World War II is set to be illuminated next week in remembrance of the start of the United States' involvement in the war, with a ceremony featuring the county's final surviving veteran of the war.

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day (Dec. 7) has traditionally been the one annual holiday to feature a beacon lighting ceremony on Save Mount Diablo, prior to a decision from local officials last year to light the beacon in honor of Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

Despite the beacon's increased prominence for more ceremonies over the past year, the Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony remains the signature event for the organizations that partner to celebrate and preserve the natural and cultural history of the mountain, including Save Mount Diablo and the Contra Costa chapter of the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors.

"Someone may think 'why does Save Mount Diablo, a conservation organization, work this historical beacon lighting every year?' And for us conservation is a patriotic endeavor," said Ted Clement, executive director of Save Mount Diablo. "We like to honor those who served and furthermore, when people look up at the beacon they're looking up at the mountain as if it's there to inspire, and we think it is."

Volunteers with Save Mount Diablo take on the task of physically illuminating the historic beacon -- known as the "Eye of Diablo" -- which was first illuminated to guide air traffic in 1928, prior to being extinguished in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

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However, local surviving veterans of World War II traditionally do the ceremonial honors of illuminating the beacon during the annual remembrance ceremony. This year, Chuck Kohler -- the county's last surviving World War II veteran -- will be pulling a prop switch timed to align with Save Mount Diablo volunteers' physical beacon lighting.

"It's kind of cute," Clement said. "It's a little old fashioned. You'd think in this day and age we could turn it on from anywhere."

This year's ceremony will mark the second live event in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, following the ceremony's in-person return last year.

"It will be similar to last year in that we will be gathering again at the CSU East Bay campus in Concord," Clement said. "Last year was the first time we had done that because of how bad the pandemic was in the early stages so we'll be doing that again this year, and that's a really positive thing."

The Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony is set to begin at 3:45 p.m. on Dec. 7 in the Oak Room at the California State University East Bay Concord campus. It will feature a number of speakers, including Clement and Kohler, before attendees are invited outside to view the beacon lighting.

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Jeanita Lyman
Jeanita Lyman joined the Pleasanton Weekly in September 2020 and covers the Danville and San Ramon beat. She studied journalism at Skyline College and Mills College while covering the Peninsula for the San Mateo Daily Journal, after moving back to the area in 2013. Read more >>

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Pearl Harbor Day beacon lighting returns to Mount Diablo

Ceremony will feature area's last surviving World War II veteran

by / Danville San Ramon

Uploaded: Mon, Nov 28, 2022, 6:40 pm

The beacon that has sat atop Mount Diablo since its installation before World War II is set to be illuminated next week in remembrance of the start of the United States' involvement in the war, with a ceremony featuring the county's final surviving veteran of the war.

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day (Dec. 7) has traditionally been the one annual holiday to feature a beacon lighting ceremony on Save Mount Diablo, prior to a decision from local officials last year to light the beacon in honor of Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

Despite the beacon's increased prominence for more ceremonies over the past year, the Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony remains the signature event for the organizations that partner to celebrate and preserve the natural and cultural history of the mountain, including Save Mount Diablo and the Contra Costa chapter of the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors.

"Someone may think 'why does Save Mount Diablo, a conservation organization, work this historical beacon lighting every year?' And for us conservation is a patriotic endeavor," said Ted Clement, executive director of Save Mount Diablo. "We like to honor those who served and furthermore, when people look up at the beacon they're looking up at the mountain as if it's there to inspire, and we think it is."

Volunteers with Save Mount Diablo take on the task of physically illuminating the historic beacon -- known as the "Eye of Diablo" -- which was first illuminated to guide air traffic in 1928, prior to being extinguished in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

However, local surviving veterans of World War II traditionally do the ceremonial honors of illuminating the beacon during the annual remembrance ceremony. This year, Chuck Kohler -- the county's last surviving World War II veteran -- will be pulling a prop switch timed to align with Save Mount Diablo volunteers' physical beacon lighting.

"It's kind of cute," Clement said. "It's a little old fashioned. You'd think in this day and age we could turn it on from anywhere."

This year's ceremony will mark the second live event in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, following the ceremony's in-person return last year.

"It will be similar to last year in that we will be gathering again at the CSU East Bay campus in Concord," Clement said. "Last year was the first time we had done that because of how bad the pandemic was in the early stages so we'll be doing that again this year, and that's a really positive thing."

The Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony is set to begin at 3:45 p.m. on Dec. 7 in the Oak Room at the California State University East Bay Concord campus. It will feature a number of speakers, including Clement and Kohler, before attendees are invited outside to view the beacon lighting.

Comments

Harrison Tamaki
Registered user
Danville
on Nov 29, 2022 at 12:07 pm
Harrison Tamaki, Danville
Registered user
on Nov 29, 2022 at 12:07 pm

This commemorative beacon lighting is unecessary as California was never invaded by Imperial Japanese forces during World War II.

Meanwhile, countless loyal Japanese-Americans were incarcerated in wrongful internment camps for the duration of the war.

This beacon is a symbol of xenophobia and racism.


Jack Hazzard
Registered user
Walnut Creek
on Dec 7, 2022 at 9:21 pm
Jack Hazzard, Walnut Creek
Registered user
on Dec 7, 2022 at 9:21 pm

I’m not sure I follow your logic. How does it make a difference whether or not they invaded California? It is a remembrance of the attack on Pearl Harbor and those who survived it. The beacon was turned off to prevent the possibility of it being used as a navigation landmark for enemy bombers ,the same way there were city wide blackouts for the same reason. Whether those bombing runs ultimately did or did not occur is irrelevant.
But Japan did carry out military attacks in Santa Barbara and Oregon. A Japanese bomb killed a pregnant woman and five children in Oregon. There were plans for a naval invasion at Ten Mile Beach in Mendocino County, as well as plans for an invasion of the Pacific Northwest by way of British Columbia. The level of armament of the American populace was a major concern.
Also, there were internment camps for Germans as well. German-Americans were attacked during ww1. Is that racist? Is remembering those who died on 9/11 racist and xenophobic?
“War is Hell” and a lot of effed up stuff happens, get over it and move on.


The Dude
Registered user
San Ramon
on Dec 18, 2022 at 12:53 pm
The Dude, San Ramon
Registered user
on Dec 18, 2022 at 12:53 pm

Harrison, may I suggest you read up on the meaning of Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. It's to remember the 2,403 people who were killed when Pearl Harbor was attacked.


Roger Massey
Registered user
Walnut Creek
on Dec 23, 2022 at 12:34 pm
Roger Massey, Walnut Creek
Registered user
on Dec 23, 2022 at 12:34 pm

The attack on Pearl Harbor was triggered by U.S. economic sanctions imposed upon Imperial Japan to curtail their expansionism in SE Asia.

Right or wrong, whatever transpired is now a part of past history and hopefully mankind has learned a harsh lesson.


Mary Lange
Registered user
Danville
on Dec 23, 2022 at 1:36 pm
Mary Lange, Danville
Registered user
on Dec 23, 2022 at 1:36 pm

Pearl Harbor and 9/11 were American tragedies but at least we can count on Japan nowadays as a friend of America.

The same cannot be said for most of the Muslim world.


Len Carlson
Registered user
Diablo
on Dec 24, 2022 at 8:48 am
Len Carlson, Diablo
Registered user
on Dec 24, 2022 at 8:48 am

Why not leave the beacon light on at night permanently as a symbol of American freedom and vigilance?


Mildred Decker
Registered user
Danville
on Dec 24, 2022 at 10:30 am
Mildred Decker, Danville
Registered user
on Dec 24, 2022 at 10:30 am

The Mt. Diablo beacon is a symbol of American freedom and should continue to shine brightly as a message to the rest of the global community that America is still the greatest country in the world despite various demographic changes.

Why else would it continue to attract immigrants, both legal and illegal?


Fred Jackson
Registered user
another community
on Dec 27, 2022 at 12:45 pm
Fred Jackson, another community
Registered user
on Dec 27, 2022 at 12:45 pm

This beacon should also shine as an illuminated symbol against racism in America.


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