Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony draws parallels to today’s conflicts

Nancy Adams, a member of Rolling Thunder, speaks at the annual Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony on Thursday in Gill next to the French King Bridge.

Nancy Adams, a member of Rolling Thunder, speaks at the annual Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony on Thursday in Gill next to the French King Bridge. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

Veterans at the annual Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony on Thursday in Gill next to the French King Bridge.

Veterans at the annual Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony on Thursday in Gill next to the French King Bridge. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

Veterans at the annual Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony on Thursday in Gill with a wreath to be displayed.

Veterans at the annual Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony on Thursday in Gill with a wreath to be displayed. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

By BELLA LEVAVI

Staff Writer

Published: 12-07-2023 6:16 PM

GILL — The 82nd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the catalyst for the United States’ involvement in World War II, was recognized on Thursday during the annual Remembrance Day ceremony that took place next to the French King Bridge.

“Our generation and beyond must remember the history of Dec. 7, 1941, that ensured our freedom and liberty and free elections — what we call democracy,” Jeff Neipp, president of Rolling Thunder Vermont Chapter 1, said during Thursday morning’s ceremony. “Japan was in an era of repression and nationalist aggression. America is a country built on freedom and liberty for all. Democracy and totalitarianism were at war.”

Members of Rolling Thunder Vermont Chapter 1 — an organization that advocates for prisoners of war, soldiers missing in action and all veterans — and the Marine Corps League Oak Ridge Detachment led the ceremony, which consisted of speeches, a prayer, a gunfire salute, a bugle performance of taps and the display of a wreath.

Dec. 7 marked the 82th 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.

Members of Rolling Thunder are determined to keep the memory alive.

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Neipp drew parallels to the attack in 1941 to current issues facing the world today.

“Soviet aggression to a free state Ukraine is at peril in Europe and the world is watching our response,” he said. “We see the colors of freedom wave here today. We didn’t allow the bullies of the world on Dec. 7, 1941, to take our freedom then, and today is a clear reminder in the world that America will react and stand for the principles of our Constitution and others that want freedom and liberty as well. We must call out the bullies and not show isolationism. We must stand with our allies and countries ravaged by aggression and terrorism. Ukraine and Israel need our help, and let’s not once again be caught off-guard or delay a response.”

Christopher Demars, director of the Upper Pioneer Valley Veterans’ Services District, recounted the events that occurred during the Pearl Harbor attack and spoke about benefits for veterans. He explained that all World War II veterans are now eligible for Veterans Affairs (VA) health care. A new law that was signed last year recently went into effect, so many more veterans qualify for this service. He said if anyone knows veterans who have been denied health care in the past, they should consider applying again for services.

“You know when we sing our national anthem we end it with a question. ‘O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, o’er the land of the free and home of the brave?’” Neipp said. “Today, she waves so beautifully with honor and sacrifice.”

Reach Bella Levavi at 413-930-4579 or blevavi@recorder.com.