TILTON -- In solemn ceremonies on Saturday in remembrance of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Brigadier General Jed J. French told those who gathered at the New Hampshire Veterans Home that Dec. 7, 1941, is not a pleasant anniversary to recall.
In the audience was Walter Borchert, 98, who was a young sailor aboard the USS Worden on that fateful day 78 years ago. He is one of the few people still alive today who witnessed the sneak attack in which 2,401 Americans were killed, and the memories haunt him to this day.
“Today, many folks that I run into were either born after Pearl Harbor or don’t remember what occurred back in 1941, but many of us since that time do have a first-hand experience with another terrible attack on our homeland on September 11, 2001, which will also be remembered for generations to come,” said French.
While remembering is painful, French said, doing so is important to ensure that the terrible price the nation paid for its lack of vigilance is never repeated.
“It’s important for America to remember our history — the highs and the low points, the successes and the tragedies, the good times and the bad, and Pearl Harbor was a low point, a tragedy with regard to the loss of life but the days, the weeks and the years to come that followed ... were unparalleled in the history of our nation.
“Millions of Americans rushed to serve — many to enlist in the armed forces and the many who did not still served at home by becoming coast watchers, searching for airplanes along the East and West Coast and during rationing of fuel, sugar, other food, buying war bonds and planting victory gardens. It was a time of a common purpose, a time of every American acting as one,” he said.
“For us to fulfill the obligation of a bond formed by our common experiences in uniform requires that we never allow this day to fade from the memory of our young citizens,” French said. “It is a history lesson worthy of retelling over and over again; it is a lesson we will not forget.”
In her own remarks, Sen. Maggie Hassan recognized Borchert as the only veteran at the home who served at Pearl Harbor, telling him: “It is an honor to be here with you today. We are incredibly grateful for your service, your sacrifice and your heroism 78 years ago and throughout your time in uniform.”