Despite possible problematic weather, the light will be brighter and crowds should be larger for Saturday's ceremonial remembrance lighting of the beacon atop Mount Diablo.
The event, which begins at 3:45 p.m. Saturday, is designed to commemorate the 2,345 American troops killed in the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Lighting the beacon on the 3,849-foot-tall mountain every Dec. 7 has been a tradition since 1964, but this year should be special.
The beacon, which was originally placed on the mountain in 1928 by Standard Oil (now Chevron) as a navigation device, was remotely activated in 1928 by famed aviator Charles Lindbergh. But it was turned off after the Pearl Harbor attack and was not relit again until 1964 when the memorial ceremony began.
The beacon had fallen into severe disrepair, but conservationists and volunteers have refurbished it. By making some adjustments to the optics and using a much brighter bulb the crews have substantially increased the beacon's illumination power.
That means if the night is clear Saturday as forecasters predict, the beacon's rotating light should be visible in communities throughout the Bay Area.
"There will be more people seeing the beacon more intensely than in the past," said Ron Brown, executive director of Save Mount Diablo, the group spearheading the restoration, which cost about $100,000 and took more than four months.
The light will be turned on at about 4:45 p.m. after the ceremony at the summit building at the top of Mt. Diablo State Park.
The program for that ceremony includes speeches from three Pearl Harbor survivors. But a word to the wise for those planning to attend, it is best to arrive by 3:15 p.m. to catch a shuttle van from the summit's lower parking lot to the top.
The event is sponsored by the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association and, obviously, the group's membership is thinning, but happily others have stepped forward to make sure this tradition carries on.
We should always remember that on that day the Navy and Marine Corps suffered 2,117 deaths (2,008 for the Navy, 109 for the Marines) and 779 wounded, while the Army had 228 killed and 113 seriously wounded.
The attack also crippled the U.S. fleet, sinking or severely damaging 18 ships as well as destroying 161 American planes and seriously damaging 102. That attack was the catalyst for Congress passing a declaration of war the next day. Three days after that, Germany and Italy formally declared war on the U.S., which signaled the nation's formal entry into World War II.
As we look in the sky Saturday, the beacon's brighter light should serve as a silent reminder to us of the freedoms we enjoy and the sacrifices made for us on that horrible day.