Gill ceremony honors 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor attack

  • Donald Girard, a 91-year-old member of Bernardston’s Marine Corps League Oak Ridge Detachment, plays taps at the Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony on Tuesday on the Gill side of the French King Bridge. Staff Photo/Julian Mendoza

  • Members of Rolling Thunder and the Marine Corps League Oak Ride Detachment hang a wreath honoring the 80th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. Staff Photo/Julian Mendoza

  • Members of Rolling Thunder salute the flag during the Pledge of Allegiance at the Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony on Tuesday on the Gill side of the French King Bridge. Staff Photo/Julian Mendoza

  • Members of Rolling Thunder come together for a ceremony honoring the 80th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks on Tuesday on the Gill side of the French King Bridge. Rolling Thunder Vermont Chapter 1 President Jeffrey Neipp speaks. Staff Photo/Julian Mendoza

  • Shelburne resident Les Chadwick, who attended Tuesday’s Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony in Gill, proudly displays his collection of flags on his lawn on the Mohawk Trail. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 12/7/2021 7:07:25 PM
Modified: 12/7/2021 7:06:58 PM

GILL — Members of Rolling Thunder Vermont Chapter 1 and the Marine Corps League Oak Ridge Detachment continued their tradition of Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremonies at the French King Bridge on Tuesday for the 80th anniversary of the Japanese assault.

The brief ceremony, which lasted around 10 minutes, comprised a speech, a prayer, scripture recitations, a gunfire salute, a bugle performance of taps and the display of a wreath. The Gill Police Department and a small group of public attendees were present. This is the 17th year that the ceremony was been held at the French King Bridge.

Dec. 7 marked the 80th anniversary of the Japanese attack on the Pearl Harbor naval base in Hawaii, where 100 military ships were being held. The attack destroyed or damaged 16 ships, killed 2,403 people and injured another 1,178.

The day after the attack — on Dec. 8, 1941 — the United States declared war on Japan, formally entering World War II. The war was not declared over until Sept. 2, 1945.

Rolling Thunder, a national organization that advocates for prisoners of war, soldiers missing in action and all veterans, is determined to keep the memory alive.

“We don’t want to forget what happened 80 years ago,” Rolling Thunder Vermont Chapter 1 President Jeffrey Neipp said during his introductory speech.

Neipp said the location of the ceremony has played a crucial part in keeping the attack in mind. He cited the highly trafficked Route 2 location as ideal for grabbing people’s attention as they pass by. This year’s ceremony continued the tradition of marking the spot with a commemorative banner and wreath hung on the gazebo near the French King Bridge’s Gill end.

“As you can see,” Neipp said, “we get a lot of honks and people thanking Rolling Thunder for commemorating Pearl Harbor Day.”

Neipp also emphasized the rate at which World War II veterans are dying, observing that numbers are “dwindling every day by 300 people.” He then shifted gears to thank the veterans who are still alive for their service, as well as active members of the military.

“We’re here today to pay our respects to all the soldiers, all the veterans,” he said, “who are still serving around the world in the United States military.”

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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