Caribou VFW, Legion brave frigid weather to remember Pearl Harbor

5 years ago

CARIBOU, Maine — Members of the Caribou VFW, American Legion, and Loring Job Corps came out to the Fort Street Bridge Friday to honor and remember the devastating Pearl Harbor attacks on Dec. 7, 1941. 

“I think one of the reasons people continue to gather is not just to remember,” said Caribou Lister-Knowlton VFW Post 9389 Commander Roger Felix, “but to remind people that we’ve been through darker days. As much as people don’t get along in today’s society, politically or otherwise, this was a time that we all came together as one to defeat a common enemy and overcome our losses.

“As long as we keep getting together and remember that, we can get through anything,” said Felix who indicated this was the 10th year that he has attended the Caribou ceremony.

Members of the Caribou Police Department parked cruisers on either side of the bridge to block traffic and allow members of military organizations and other participants to gather at the center of the span.

Caribou Police Chief Michael Gahagan said he’s been attending the event for “as long as I remember,” and that the city has held Pearl Harbor remembrance ceremonies for at least half a century.

“This is a day of remembrance,” he said. “Not just of Pearl Harbor, but for all our armed forces.”

Gahagan and Felix joked that even with an outside temperature of roughly 12 degrees, the weather for this year’s event was far more gentle than past ceremonies.

Felix opened the ceremony once all had gathered at the bridge’s center, and said that even though the country was in a difficult period back then, “we get through dark times every single day, because that’s who we are. We’re America, and nobody is greater than us.”

Trisha House, state office representative for U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, read a statement on behalf of the senator, who was unable to attend.

“Our soldiers, airmen, sailors, marines, and members of the Coast Guard and Merchant Marines did not come from a society with the desire for conquest,” Collins’ message read. “Whether they came from our great cities, the Great Plains, or the farms and fishing villages of Maine, they came from places that desired peace and cherished freedom. When the crisis hit, the American character bound them together in a great common cause on behalf of humanity.”

Caribou American Legion Post 15 Commander Wayne Little then gave a brief statement about honoring those who perished during the 1941 attacks, and specifically recalled local Pearl Harbor survivor Warren Bouchard, who passed away seven years ago.

Before Little and Felix tossed the ceremonial wreath off the bridge and into the Aroostook River, Legion Chaplain and Historian Wanda Smith read a Pearl Harbor Day prayer.

All were silent as the wreath floated down the river and taps played in remembrance of what President Roosevelt once referred to as a “date which will live in infamy.”

Felix reminded everyone before the ceremony’s conclusion that U.S. servicemen and women are still fighting for their country.

“Remember,” he said, “we have people in harm’s way even today, and they are far away from home in far away lands. Pray for their families and pray for their safe return.”