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Remembering Pearl Harbor: Manchester honors those who gave all

New Hampshire Union Leader

December 03. 2017 8:59PM
Retired U.S. Army Maj. Dan Beliveau, commander of the Manchester Veterans Council, speaks at Arms Park on Sunday during a ceremony in observance of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. The wreath in front of Beliveau at the end of the ceremony was placed in the Merrimack River to honor the memory of the fallen. (DOUG ALDEN/UNION LEADER)

Anahi Bracero,left, and Desmond St. Felix, seniors in Manchester High School West’s Naval Junior ROTC, carry a wreath to the Merrimack River during a Pearl Harbor memorial ceremony Sunday at Arms Park in Manchester. (DOUG ALDEN/UNION LEADER)

The Manchester Veterans Council hosted a memorial ceremony Sunday in honor of the U.S. military personnel and civilians killed nearly 76 years ago in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The annual commemoration at Arms Park in Manchester featured a few short speeches, including a reading of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s address to the nation the day after Japan’s Dec. 7, 1941, raid on the U.S. Pacific fleet.

Retired U.S. Army Maj. Dan Beliveau, commander of the Manchester Veterans Council, said the soldiers, sailors, airmen and civilians killed or wounded in the attack should never be forgotten.

“It is important for us to continue this tradition of remembering those who gave their all so we can continue to enjoy the freedoms that we very often take for granted,” Beliveau said. “We gather to remember those who came before us to protect our freedom and way of life.”

Beliveau said it was a Sunday morning like any other on the island of Oahu before the surprise wave of attacks began on the U.S. Navy fleet. Some 2,341 members of the U.S. Navy, Marines and Army were killed in the attack; another 1,178 were wounded.

“They were preparing to change shifts, eating breakfast, attending religious services,” he said. “No one was prepared for what would happen.”

A rifle unit fired a three-volley salute during the ceremony. Mayor Ted Gatsas, who Beliveau said could not attend because of a scheduling conflict, issued a proclamation declaring Sunday as Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

Following the remarks and a bugle solo of Taps, two members of the Manchester High School West Naval Junior ROTC color guard carried a memorial wreath down to the Merrimack River and placed it in the water.

About 50 people attended the ceremony. Pearl Harbor survivor Jim Billotta of Derry wanted to be there Sunday, but his health wasn’t cooperating, said Al Heidenreich, past commander of Henry J. Sweeney American Legion Post 2.

Mayor-elect Joyce Craig chatted with some of the veterans before the ceremony, then took a spot in the audience. She said it is important to thank U.S. veterans and remember those who fell in service to their country.

“The ceremony was beautiful,” Craig said. “I’m happy they are able to include the students from West along with our veterans. It was very moving.”

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