Pearl Harbor rosary finds home at Loras College - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Pearl Harbor rosary finds home at Loras College

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

It is a day that will live in infamy, December 7th, 1941. Just before 8 a.m. that morning, nearly 400 Japanese warplanes attacked the home port of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. That attack left 5 battleships, 3 destroyers, and 7 other ships sunk or severely damaged, and more than 200 aircraft destroyed. The attack on Pearl Harbor killed about 2,400 Americans and wounded another 1,200, many while attempting to repel the attack.

December 7th, 1941 is a day that Iowa native, Dan Murray says he will never forget.

"It's always a day that you don't forget. I mean it is like the day that Kennedy was shot and 9/11.  Those days are marked in our psyche," Murray said.

Murray donated a handmade rosary to Loras College in Dubuque. The rosary, a set of prayer beads used by Catholics, holds a piece in history with the attack of Pearl Harbor. Murray says he hopes the piece of history will pay as a tribute to the victims of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The rosary was created by Girard Pline, of Epworth. Pline made the rosary from wood salvaged from the USS Oklahoma, a battleship sunk in the bombing attack on Pearl Harbor. Pline donated the rosary to his local church. Dan Murray says his father purchased that rosary at a church auction.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Murray was given possession of the rosary from his siblings. He decided to donate the rosary to Loras College. Loras College has a memorial for Rev. Aloysius Schmitt. Father Schmitt was a Loras College graduate, who became a Chaplain and joined the U.S. Navy after graduating from the college. Father Schmitt was stationed on the USS Oklahoma the morning on December 7th, 1941. Rev. William Joensen is Loras' dean of Spiritual Life.

"He and other men were in a compartment there which was quickly filling with water," he said. "He was a good sized fellow and recognized that if he were to try to make his way out he would block the way of others. So he encouraged the others to proceed out. He did perish that day."

Dan Murray is also a graduate of Loras College. He says that during his time at Loras College he read about Father Schmitt. He said his studies of Father Schmitt became personal.

"He was man from our area, he was a priest of our faith, and he was a Loras graduate." Murray said Saturday afternoon. "That kind of struck home with me."

Murray decided to donate the rosary to be a part of the Loras College memorial for Rev. Aloysius Schmitt. The rosary joins items belonging to Schmitt in the display including a prayer book and chalice. Murray hopes the donation will help bring home what happened at Pearl Harbor for generations of Iowans to come.

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