TILTON — Roger Paris and Frank Gorski have many things in common aside from being lifelong residents of Manchester. Both now live at the New Hampshire Veterans Home, both were U.S. Marines during World War II, and both fought in the Pacific Theater.
And on Friday, as the home held its Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony, both clearly remembered the attack on Pearl Harbor, which caught them and most Americans by surprise on Dec. 7, 1941.
"We didn't know what was happening, we were just teenagers," Gorski, 94, said.
"We were just coming out of the Depression, and we needed jobs. There weren't a lot of jobs around then, and the military offered three square (meals) a day, so that was good work for me. And then, of course, we saved the world."
Paris, 95, had joined the Marines and was training at North Carolina's Camp Lejeune when they got the word of the attack.
"It was 2 p.m. in the afternoon, I remember it well," he said.
"We knew something was coming, we had just been training in Cuba. But we had never been in battle, we thought 'We'll kill these (Japanese) in a couple of weeks and then we'll be home.'"
That wasn't the case, of course. The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy that led to the United States' entry into World War II. The Japanese did not formally surrender until Sept. 2, 1945.
As Paris and Gorski watched Friday morning's ceremony, John Neylon, a former state commander and national vice commander of The American Legion, again termed those who fought in the World War II as "the Greatest Generation."
"You proved that our military is the greatest force protecting security that the world has ever seen," Neylon said. "Thank you for your service, thank you for our freedom."
Fred Osgood, 89, of Concord, another Marine who served in the Pacific Theater during World War II, said he didn't expect the attack.
"Somebody knew something and may have expected it, but we didn't expect it at the time," said Osgood, who is like Paris, Gorski, and other World War II veterans at the home in that none of them served at Pearl Harbor.
"But I don't regret anything I did. I joined up because it was the right thing to do. We went there to do a job, and we did it."
Osgood paid tribute to U.S. forces fighting today.
"It's too bad we have to keep getting into these things, trouble seems to bring us places these days too," he said.
Also on Friday, Gov. Maggie Hassan proclaimed Saturday as "Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day" in New Hampshire.
"The horrific attack at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, forever changed the course of history for our great nation and the world," Hassan said. "On this solemn occasion, we honor the sacrifices of those heroes who lost their lives and those who survived that tragic day. We are eternally grateful for their service and the service of millions more who would go on to fight for our country in the Second World War, defending our shared values of liberty, equality and freedom."