New Hartford Legion Honors Pearl Harbor 70 Years Later [VIDEO]
New Hartford, NY (WIBX) – Today marks the 70th anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor, an event that killed more than 2,000 people and sank 12 ships, including the USS Arizona.
During a small ceremony, veterans at American Legion Post 1376 in New Hartford lowered their flags to half staff, laid a wreath in honor of fallen soldiers and played Taps.
Legion Post Commander, Fred Williams, says the event is more important than ever because of the dwindling amount of veterans able to attend.
“A lot of them today, that are still with us, like I said, they’re in nursing homes and unable to get around,” Williams said. ”It’s sad, it really is sad. But, you know, that’s the way life is.”
Although many former servicemen were unable to make it, there were a handful able to come out and show their support.
Ed Lavin, one of the veterans able to participate in the ceremony, joined the NAVY on December 8th, 1941. He still remembers his visit to the recruiter’s office.
“[The] recruiting officer looked at me and said ‘Oh, you can’t get in, because you’re not 21,’” Lavin said. “‘You’ve got to have your parents’ signatures.’ So, I had to take the paperwork home, have my mother and father sign and they wanted to talk it over. So, I actually went in… it was the 9th when I officially raised my hand and said, ‘I do solemnly swear.’”
His brother, who was only 16 at the time, also enlisted, though he had to lie about his age to get in.
Now, looking back nearly 70 years ago, Lavin said the war galvanized the American people.
“This country was never closer together than after World War II, and during World War II, because almost every family had somebody in the service,” Lain said.
Post Commander Williams, a Vietnam War veteran himself, said that the American people need to hold onto the wisdom older service members provide.
“The nice thing about the American Legion is we remember all of those, and we treasure the memories,” Williams said. ”And we treasure the friendships that we made over the years with all of these veterans.”
According to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, only about 3-thousand soldiers who served in Hawaii during the attack are still alive.