The Disabled Veterans of America, Chapter 46 marked the 72nd anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor with a remembrance ceremony Saturday morning at the American Legion, Post 168.
Vice Commander Donald Spencer welcomed DAV members and other veterans, as well as special guests like Hinesville City Councilman David Anderson and Liberty County Commission Chairman Donald Lovette. Another special guest was Martin Braydon, a veteran of World War II, the Korean War and the war in Vietnam.
“This is the first (Pearl Harbor Day ceremony) I’ve made in quite a while,” Braydon said. “I’ve been in the hospital for some time.”
The 87-year-old veteran and DAV member said it is important for him and others to remember Pearl Harbor. He said he served in the European theater and never saw action in the Pacific. During the war, he said he served with the 3rd Armor Division but also made an airborne assault with the 82nd Airborne Division. Despite service in three wars, he said he managed not to get any serious combat wounds. Most of his service-connected injuries were what he called “wear and tear.”
“I’ve never been shot,” Braydon said, grinning. “I always managed to duck.”
The Pearl Harbor Day ceremony followed an itinerary expected of any military ceremony. After Spencer’s greeting and an invocation by DAV Chaplain Sherry Young, a color guard comprised of Bradwell Institute’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets posted the colors. After DAV member Paul Spence led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance, 3rd Infantry Division Band singer Sgt. 1st Class Dana Fischl sang the national anthem.
One more ceremonial item then needed to be observed before Spencer could introduce the guest speaker, Maj. Nathan Miller, operations officer for the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat team. DAV Commander Walter Helmick and DAV-Auxiliary Commander Melinda Schneider placed a wreath as a reminder of the 2,386 Americans who died Dec. 7, 1941.
Miller began by saying his generation of soldiers have tremendous respect for the veterans who served before them. He said ceremonies like Pearl Harbor Day observances not only honor those who sacrificed their all, but they remind veterans — past, present and future — why they served and continue to serve.
“President Roosevelt said that day will live in infamy and it has,” said Miller, who began by recalling the months just prior to the Pearl Harbor attack. “War comes to all nations, whether they want it or not.”
He related how the U.S. government scaled back its military after World War I and how peace movements resisted any mention of involvement in the war already going on in Europe.
“It wasn’t a question anymore on Dec. 7, 1941,” Miller said, then moved forward to other dates in infamy, like Sept. 11, 2001. “Throughout history, we’ve seen aggressive nations bring war to us. We have to prepare for it ... It is our duty.”
Miller compared the massive cuts in military spending prior to World War II to the massive cuts in military spending today. He noted, however, that in the 1920s and 1930s, military leaders continued to prepare for war by developing new fighting techniques, procedures and equipment.
Leaders like Gens. George Patton, MacArthur and Billy Mitchell and Adms. Chester Nimitz and Bull Halsey were ready for war, despite a much smaller force. He said as America again cuts back on military spending, its military leaders continue to prepare for the next war.
Following Miller’s remarks, another part of the ceremony again reminded guests of the significance of the occasion. A bell was rung for each year of World War II — 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944 and 1945. After the final ringing of the bell, Taps was played in remembrance of the nearly 500,000 Americans who died in that war.
A final ceremony was the retiring of the colors, followed by refreshments that included a cake. The cake had an American flag as a backdrop and the message, “Remember Pear Harbor: Dec. 7, 1941.”