Auxiliary salutes military on Pearl Harbor 80th anniversary

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By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

RAVENA — Famously dubbed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as “a day which will live in infamy,” the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii in 1941 marked the United States’ entry into World War II.

The day was remembered across the nation Dec. 7, on the 80th anniversary of the attack.

Members of the Unitas Memorial Veterans Post 9594 honored the day by opening the Ravena Village Board meeting leading the Pledge of Allegiance and Auxiliary member Lisa Foronda Schmitt performed the national anthem.

Village board member and Auxiliary President Mary Ellen Rosato led a brief ceremony recalling the loss and sacrifice of troops stationed at Pearl Harbor on that fateful day.

“Today is the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor,” Rosato said. “Let us always remember, honor and support our military.”

Thousands of troops were killed or injured on that day, and the military suffered other losses when the Japanese struck the U.S. military base in a surprise attack.

“On Dec. 7, (1941), at 7:55 a.m., Japan attacked Hawaii, Pearl Harbor,” Rosato said. “Twelve ships sank or were beached, nine were damaged. One hundred and sixty aircraft were destroyed, 150 damaged.”

The loss of human life was more devastating, with thousands killed. The U.S. Navy suffered the greatest number of deaths.

“Our military — in the Army, 218 were killed that day, 364 were wounded,” Rosato said. “Marines — 109 killed, 69 wounded. The Navy — 2,008 were killed, 710 wounded. Civilians — 68 killed, 35 wounded.”

The attack pushed the United States into war, which had already been raging in Europe for two years. Roosevelt addressed a joint session of Congress and the nation via radio on Dec. 8, 1941.

“The Senate responded with a unanimous vote in support of war; only Montana pacifist Jeanette Rankin dissented in the House,” according to the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration website. “At 4:00 p.m. that same afternoon, President Roosevelt signed the declaration of war.”

Rosato urged the community to remember the fallen and honor them.

“Let us always remember, honor and support our military,” Rosato said.

Auxiliary member Helen Barber said after the ceremony this was the first time the organization held a Pearl Harbor remembrance service.

“We are a patriotic organization for our veterans,” Barber said. “We thought it would be nice to come in our patriotic shirts and uniforms and open up the village meeting with a pledge to honor the veterans and the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor.”

The ceremony was personal for Barber — her daughter is a major on active duty in the U.S. Army, currently stationed in Washington, D.C.

Retired Army Reserve nurse Robin Riordan is also a member of the Auxiliary and was on hand to remember her comrades in arms.

“The past military and soldiers that served, particularly in Pearl Harbor, gave their lives so we could be here today honoring them,” Riordan said. “Any veteran that served in war, to lay their life on the line for our freedom today and our rights — that is why we do this and why we remember. I think it is very important that we remember our veterans.”

Auxiliary member Marion Shields has a personal connection to the war and wanted to honor those who served.

“My husband served in World War II in the South Pacific. He was a Marine,” Shields said. “I am behind veterans 100%. I volunteered for six years at the VA Hospital every Monday and I enjoyed every minute of it. I can’t even begin to say how important veterans and their service are — they took the chance of something happening and to me, they are my heroes.”

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