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Buck-Taylor Pays Tribute to Veterans During Pearl Harbor Ceremony

December 10, 2013

NEW MILFORD — State Rep. Cecilia Buck-Taylor joined the New Milford Veterans Committee today in paying tribute to veterans here as well as those throughout our state and country during a ceremony commemorating the attack on Pearl Harbor. You can review Buck-Taylor’s remarks here:

Good Morning Everyone,

As a community we came together today to pay our respects to those who sacrificed their lives and to those who survived the day that President Franklin D. Roosevelt appropriately described as “a date which will live in infamy,” December 7, 1941.

For most, that day was a Sunday just like any other—sailors, airmen and families following their regular routines: just out of the shower; eating breakfast; getting ready for church; catching up on the morning news; or simply beginning that day’s assigned tasks.

All of those things were abruptly interrupted by the loud blasts of the air raid sirens and the thundering explosions of bombs dropping. The air was thick with smoke and flames and filled with the cries of men scrambling to help themselves and others defend against the airplanes roaring overhead and the submarines prowling beneath the water’s surface.

Murray Wells, a survivor of that infamous day, described how “The Japanese kept coming in waves of four or five, diving, dropping torpedoes, then pulling up to evade anti-aircraft artillery. They changed from torpedoes to bombs. The attack finally ended about 11 a.m.”

The survivors of Pearl Harbor and their comrades in arms have been called the Greatest Generation. This is the generation to which my husband’s uncle Al belonged. Uncle Al’s 150 man marine company hopped from island to island in the Pacific to liberate territory seized by the Japanese. Of the 150 men who shipped out with Uncle Al, 2 survived the war. 2 out of 150.

I believe that, throughout our history, every generation of Americans can rightly be called the “Greatest Generation”. Our founding fathers “… mutually pledged to each other their Lives, their Fortunes and their sacred Honor to form this great nation.”

Each generation has risen to the challenges presented to it. Each generation has built on the honor, the fortitude and the courage of the previous generations.
No doubt some of the first responders who rushed into the burning Twin Towers to rescue those that they could and gave their lives in the attempt were the sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters of the WWII veterans who also gave their all.

We are here today to remember Pearl Harbor. But let us never forget the generations past and present that have continued to build on that legacy – never forgetting that we are a nation of hope – a nation built from Freedom, nurtured from generation to generation by Freedom and always living for and defending Freedom.

It is my hope that over the years those touched by the events of that tragic and historic day in 1941 have found some bit of comfort in the fact that this reprehensible attack became a rallying point for our nation—sparking an inspired American determination that startled the world.

It was Winston Churchill who described our United States as a “gigantic boiler,” adding that, “once a fire is ignited under it, there is no limit to the power it can generate.”

People who have lost loved ones on that day in Pearl Harbor also deserve nods of respect from us here—sacrifices made by military families are immense, and our military…and our state and our nation…are stronger because of their sacrifices.

And let us never forget those that have been left behind. I have previously spoken about a quote from President George Washington. He said “the willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.” I think it is but a very small step to expand on that quote, to say that our young people will also look at how vigilant we are and how committed we are to “leaving no man behind.” So no matter what event we may come together to honor as we do here today, let us never forget the POWs and the MIAs that have been left behind. Speaking of people held by foreign governments, I am happy to report that Merrill Newman, an 85 year old veteran, was recently released by North Korea.

When we think about Pearl Harbor, from generation to generation, let us be inspired by the words of President Ronald Reagan. He said “Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their valor, and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.”

Thank you very much, and may God bless you all.