Veterans of the 41st city council district and beyond were honored by Council Member Darlene Mealy at the 6th Annual “Intergenerational Pearl Harbor Day Memorial” Tuesday afternoon at the Christopher Blenman Senior Center. Features of the program included the FDNY Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, vocalists from the arts group Purelements, the New York Army Color Guard, Kipp Amp Charter School Marching Band, the P.S 189 Choir, and a recitation of essays and delivery of holiday cards by New Heights Middle School.
Veterans from the Department of Veteran Affairs, Black Vets for Social Justice, Veterans Action Group Buffalo Soldiers Of America Inc., and the CEO and The Commanding Officer for the NY chapter of the National Association of Black Veterans Association (NABVETS Inc.) were on hand. Special veteran guest speakers reflected on national service even in the face of inequalities and a continuing struggle for racial justice.
“America’s sons and daughters have always answered the call to duty, however skeptical or cynical the times have made them feel,” said Annie Suggs, a veteran who spoke at the event. “America is the country it is today because of their willingness to fight for the cause of freedom.”
The district’s local Pearl Harbor veteran, Reverend James E. Blakely, who was on board the U.S.S. St. Louis at the time of the attack and heard the announcement to “man your battle stations; this is NOT a drill,” was present at the event, and honored with a birthday cake.
“It feels wonderful that people remember and commemorate this anniversary,” Blakely, who turns 95 in January, told Brooklyn Brief. “I’m glad people remember what we fought for.”
Seventy three ago, having recently emerged from the Great Depression, Americans were looking forward to a leisurely holiday season filled with family and friends. In Europe the flames of war were raging, but after the horrors of the Great War (later known as World War I), the nation was loath to enter another global conflict staged halfway across the world. In the White House, however, a flurry of diplomatic activity attempted to stave off the inevitable between Japan and America.
The December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor changed everything. Killing 2,400 military personnel, wounding 1,000 more, and destroying 318 ships and aircraft, America was catapulted into war. The entire country immediately became involved in the effort, enlisting, volunteering, and engaging in unprecedented civic participation. The soldiers who willingly sacrificed during this era came to be known as ‘the greatest generation’.
Council Member Darlene Mealy represents the 41st City Council district, which includes areas of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, Wingate, Ocean Hill, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens and East Flatbush.
Additional photos below via Council Member Darlene Mealy’s Office: