‘It’s up to us’ to re­mem­ber

Veter­ans ob­serve 77th an­niver­sary of Pearl Har­bor

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Mark Zaret­sky

WEST HAVEN — We’ve reached a point in time where there no longer are lo­cal Pearl Har­bor sur­vivors able to at­tend the city’s Pearl Har­bor Re­mem­brance Day, but on the

77th an­niver­sary of the Ja­panese sneak at­tack, those who re­main re­mem­bered it for them.

The West Haven Veter­ans Coun­cil or­ga­nized Fri­day morn­ing’s ob­ser­vance at the Wil­liam A. So­der­man Me­mo­rial Flag­pole on the Veter­ans Walk of Honor in Bradley Point Park. About 75 peo­ple at­tended. Of the 2,335 mil­i­tary per­son­nel killed when 353 Im­pe­rial Ja­panese air­craft launched from six air­craft car­ri­ers bombed the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Har­bor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941, 1,177 were killed on board the USS Ari­zona.

Over­all, the dead in­cluded 2,008 Navy men, 109 Marines, 218 army men and 68 civil­ians.

For some who at­tended Fri­day, the Pearl Har­bor com­mem­o­ra­tion doesn’t just rec­og­nize those who died that day.

It rec­og­nizes “the great­est gen­er­a­tion — a gen­er­a­tion of peo­ple who saved this coun­try, and ba­si­cally saved the world,” said Steve Car­ney, vice pres­i­dent of the Veter­ans Coun­cil.

“We re­mem­ber to­day the men who died at Pearl Har­bor” be­cause “with­out them, ba­si­cally, none of us would be here right now,” Car­ney said.

“On this day, we give thanks to all who made the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice,” said Veter­ans of For­eign Wars Post 9422 Com­man­der Freddy Jack­son.

Florence Stoe­ber, whose late hus­band, Jack Stoe­ber, had his ashes scat­tered in Pearl Har­bor after he died on Jan. 16, 2016, at age 97, read the names of the 18 Connecticut ser­vice­men who died at Pearl Har­bor.

West Haven Fire Depart­ment Lt. Wil­liam Hef­fer­nan III rang the depart­ment’s chrome bell each time he re­cited one of the names — in­clud­ing that of Steven Pepe, for­merly of Bridge­port, a crew mem­ber on the USS Ok­la­homa whose re­mains were fi­nally iden­ti­fied only re­cently.

For decades, he had been listed as miss­ing, but modern tech­nol­ogy made it pos­si­ble to iden­tify his re­mains, Stoe­ber said. Pepe was buried in early Oc­to­ber in the Mas­sachusetts Na­tional Ceme­tery in Bourne, Mass.

Louis Es­pos­ito, ex­ec­u­tive as­sis­tant to Mayor Nancy Rossi, served as master of cer­e­monies. Vic­tor M. Bor­ras of Gate­way Chris­tian Fel­low­ship gave the open­ing and clos­ing prayers, West Haven High School sopho­more Nora E. Mullins sang the na­tional an­them and re­tired West Shore Fire Depart­ment Lt. Kevin McKeon played taps on his bu­gle.

The Stoe­bers’ 5-year-old grand­son, Matthew McCann, lead the Pledge of Al­le­giance.

Rossi was un­able to at­tend, but sent her con­do­lences to the rel­a­tives of those who died and said in a writ­ten state­ment, “If we do not take the time to re­mem­ber, we risk a sense of dis­con­nec­tion” from our history.

Other speak­ers in­cluded state Reps. Charles Fer­raro, R-West Haven, and Dorinda Borer, D-West Haven, and Ben Flor­sheim, aide to U.S. Sen. Chris Mur­phy, D-Conn.

“To for­get what took place on Dec. 7, 1941,” would be a grave er­ror, said Fer­raro, echo­ing Rossi.

“Many of you who are my age learned about

Pearl Har­bor from our par­ents,” but now “it’s up to us,” said Borer.

Flor­sheim called it “a re­ally re­mark­able thing to see a city come to­gether ... to re­mem­ber this day.”

Arnold Gold / Hearst Connecticut Me­dia

Mem­bers of the West Haven Fire Depart­ment Honor Guard salute as the names of Connecticut ser­vice­men who died dur­ing the Ja­panese at­tack on Pearl Har­bor are read Fri­day. Above left, they raise the flag dur­ing the com­mem­o­ra­tion of the 77th an­niver­sary of Pearl Har­bor, held at Bradley Point Park in West Haven Fri­day.

Viet­nam vet­eran Dave Ricci of West Haven lays a wreath at the Wil­liam A. So­der­manMe­mo­rial Flag­pole dur­ing the cer­e­mony Fri­day.

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