Veterans honor ‘lives lost,’ remember ‘days of infamy’
Looking back on this country’s history, there are many parallels that can be drawn between the Pearl Harbor Day attack and the 9/11 attacks.
So said Keith “Jake” Boyer, a U.S. Air Force veteran and retired school superintendent, who spoke during a recent Pearl Harbor Day program at the World War II Memorial on Sgt. Stanley Hoffman Boulevard, Lehighton.
“Today we gather to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor,” Boyer told an impressive turnout of guests who braved the chilly air to attend the program hosted by the Lehighton United Veterans Organization.
Boyer told the crowd he was honored to have been asked to speak “about a day in our history, which is so painful to remember ... but a day which no American should ever forget, Dec. 7, 1941 ... a day America was caught by surprise and forever changed.”
“It was a day preceded by vague warnings, bureaucratic breakdowns, and, a failure in understanding the nature and threat of a foreign enemy,” he said.
While not many of those in attendance experienced that day firsthand, Boyer noted most experienced a “horrifically similar day” on Sept. 11, 2001.
“Those of you who know me will understand that while I believe it’s important to honor lives lost, important to remember those days of infamy, it does us little good, as a nation, unless along with the commemoration, we have education,” Boyer said. “That is, we must learn the lessons that cost the lives of so many — both military and civilian.”
Boyer acknowledged several important milestones, including the first, 10th, 20th, 50th and 60th anniversary of Pearl Harbor.
He said the goals and the lessons are much the same.
“We fight to protect ourselves and our children from violence and fear,” Boyer said. “We fight for the security of our people and the success of liberty.
“We fight against men without conscience. We fight to win, and win we will. We will be relentless in the pursuit of freedom.”
The program began with a welcome from Commander Kevin M. Long, Lehighton UVO.
Chaplain John E. Stefanik, Lehighton UVO, gave the invocation.
Following the national anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Vice Commander David B. Bryfogle, Lehighton UVO.
Opening remarks were given by borough Mayor Tom Mase, as well as borough Manager Nicole Beckett.
Beckett noted President Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered a speech naming the day as a date which will live in infamy.
“The day, the attack, the invasion will certainly live in history,” Beckett said. “Today, we salute all veterans for their courage and determination.”
Beckett thanked the Lehighton UVO for continuing to serve the community, and for the ceremony.
“Today, we honor the World War II veterans, along with the heroes who followed in their footsteps,” she said. “We will not forget all they did and all they endured.”
Closing remarks were offered by Harry J. Wynn III, senior vice commander, 30th District American Legion.
Long placed the wreath at the memorial.
State Rep. Doyle Heffley, R-122nd, and Brad Hurley, representing state Sen. John Yudichak, D-14th, also made remarks. Stefanik gave the benediction, while the Lehighton UVO Honor Guard gave the salute.
Taps were performed by Henry Long, Bulger, Lehighton UVO.