PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Central Illinois is remembering the attack on Pearl Harbor, 81 years to the date.

Wednesday, American Legion posts in Peoria and the Twin Cities remembering the 2,403 Americans that were killed during Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

“There aren’t that many veterans left from Pearl Harbor, so if we, this generation don’t pass it down to ours then it will eventually go away,” Jim Ulrich, commander of American Legion Post 2- Peoria.

During remembrance ceremonies, veterans played taps, told the stories of Pearl Harbor, and fired rifles.

While reflecting on the tragedy, Jerry Vogler, adjutant of American Legion Post 635 in Normal, said the attack played a big part in bringing the United States together as it entered World War II.

“All those things that make it possible for a military to be successful, we had it because we became united because of Pearl Harbor,” Vogler said.

There were many acts of bravery shown 81 years ago.

“The U.S.S. West Virginia, the band was playing the national anthem,” Ulrich said. “they didn’t drop their weapons and run, they finished the national anthem, and they were all killed.”

Ulrich said Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day is an important time to learn from the past to create a better future.

“We had our guard totally down and we didn’t learn from that, 9/11 is proof of that. Again, we were attacked unexpectedly and so if we don’t learn from things like that it’s just going to repeat itself. So you need to know what has happened in the past,” he said.

Ulrich also said community members that have family who were alive during Pearl Harbor should talk to them about their memories of that day.