Bangor rite honors Pearl Harbor dead

Posted Dec. 07, 2008, at 9:38 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A single evergreen wreath adorned with a red and white bow and pine cones flecked with white landed Sunday afternoon in the Kenduskeag Stream. A gentle snow fell into the dark water during the ceremony to mark Pearl Harbor Day.

The wreath seemed to settle itself into the current after being tossed from the downtown footbridge by members of the Navy Operational Support Center.

A lone bugler played taps as the wreath floated toward the Penobscot River. The 21-gun salute by the Bangor High School Junior ROTC echoed harshly between the parking garage and the courthouse under construction.

The short ceremony honored those who died 67 years ago on Dec. 7, 1941, the day President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called “a day that will live in infamy.” About 50 people attended or participated in the annual event.

The Dec. 7 attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese claimed nearly 2,400 lives, injured 1,178 and crippled the U.S. Pacific Fleet. It also catapulted the U.S. into World War II.

Although it was a traumatic event similar to Sept. 11, 2001, City Councilor Richard “Rick” Bronson said at the ceremony, it also united Americans in a way they had not been before or since until the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., seven years ago.

“Let us draw on the example of the Greatest Generation that came home and led us into a time of unprecedented peace and prosperity,” he said.

Col. Doug Farnham of the Maine Air National Guard thanked the veterans who attended the ceremony for their service.

“All of us wearing uniforms today are motivated by all of you who wore the uniform in the past,” he said. “The people of Bangor set a great example by the way that you honor veterans. The way we honor our past heroes helps create future heroes.”

Paul Colburn, 84, of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, has coordinated the event in Bangor for more than 25 years. He will turn that responsibility over to others next year, it was announced Sunday.

Participants left the shores of the Kenduskeag Stream for a fish chowder lunch at the Norman N. Dow VFW Post on Hammond Street.

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