By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
Seventy-five years after a day that will live in infamy, more than 50 Islanders gathered to remember the attacks on Pearl Harbor.
The noontime ceremony, held Wednesday at the flagpole outside Pfc. Charles N. DeGlopper Memorial Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 9249, 2121 Grand Island Blvd., was attended by representatives of the Niagara Falls Air Base as well as an estimated 50 participants. An open house and presentations followed inside the post.
The honor guard of the post offered a gun salute. Taps was played by David Pachla and Robert Jankowiak.
VFW Vice Commander Paul Coughlin said the day in history will remind all to be "more vigilant." At dawn on Dec. 7, 1941, Japan launched a sneak attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor near Honolulu, Hawaii, destroying U.S. Navy vessels and killing more than 2,000 American soldiers and sailors. The Japanese at the same time attacked American and British interests in other parts of Southeast Asia.
The next day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress for a declaration of war, sending the country into World War II.
David Pachla played taps, joined by Robert Jankowiak.
Town Supervisor Nathan McMurray recalled for those present what the menace Imperial Japan had become in the years leading up to the war, and what it took for America and her allies to fight in the Pacific Theater.
"The Japanese had shocked the world by defeating the Russians in 1905 and they went on to dominate Asia," McMurray said. "Huge chunks of land were taken. China was taken; parts of Southeast Asia were taken. People were forced to speak Japanese and take Japanese names."
Japan had "a world-class military," McMurray said, adding that the Imperial Japanese were trying to dominate the world and force their culture on surrounding countries.
"The sacrifice that was taken to defeat the Japanese should never be forgotten," McMurray said.
"Today, we mark the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor," said Gov. Andrew Cuomo from Albany. "In commemoration of the courage and valor shown by those who answered the call to protect our nation, we acknowledge and honor the more than 2,400 who made the ultimate sacrifice.
"On this day of infamy we are all reminded that 'freedom is not free.' Yet, it provides us with an opportunity here in New York to ensure those who have fought and continue to fight for the values this state and nation were founded upon are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. That's why New York remains committed to providing full access to quality services and supports for all our U.S. servicemembers and veterans.
"This day weighs heavy on the hearts of all Americans. While we can never repay those who gave their lives in defense of liberty, justice and democracy, we can honor their sacrifice by working together to ensure the ideals and freedoms we cherish always ring true."