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Veterans mark Day of Infamy

A small group of Grand Forks veterans gathered Sunday to recognize a dark day in U.S. history said to "live in infamy." For the first time, members of Grand Forks Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1874 and Post Auxiliary held a small ceremony commemo...

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Members of the Grand Forks Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1874 and Post Auxiliary gathered Sunday to honor veterans of Pearl Harbor. From left: Keith Trzynka, Dennis Heap, E. Paul Smart, Bill Lembke and on far right, bugler Alan Nieuwsma. Joshua Kliner, 9, grandson of John Hanson, state chairman of the VFW's Naitonal Legislative Committee, also attended the ceremony. Grand Forks Herald photo by Jennifer Johnson.l

A small group of Grand Forks veterans gathered Sunday to recognize a dark day in U.S. history said to "live in infamy."

For the first time, members of Grand Forks Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1874 and Post Auxiliary held a small ceremony commemorating the attack on Pearl Harbor, one day before its anniversary.

Veterans Day and Memorial Day honor veterans, but there's no federal holiday for veterans of Pearl Harbor, and people forget about it, said John Hanson, state chairman for the VFW National Legislative Committee.

"It's one of those things we've never done but always wanted to do," he said.

Several VFW members in Grand Forks have a direct connection to Pearl Harbor, whether it's through friends, family members or acquaintances, he said.

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Hanson and others wanted to honor those who were attacked on Dec. 7, 1941. The surprise military strike, launched by the Japanese on the U.S. naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, led to the United States' involvement in World War II.

The event included a rifle salute and a reading of the "Day of Infamy" speech by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Members decided just Wednesday to hold the event, and chose Sunday over the actual anniversary because it was more convenient for others, said Hanson.

Stories

The gathering inspired veterans to trade stories related to Pearl Harbor and other wars.

Hanson's uncle got married the day before the Pearl Harbor bombing, and the next day reported for deployment, he said. VFW member Alan Nieuwsma, who plays bugle for veteran events, said his father was notified to report for deployment but then rejected, sent home to farm instead, he said.

Bill Lembke said any event honoring veterans is meaningful. He was wounded on April 2, 1966, in Vietnam during four years of service in the Marine Corps, he said.

"Every time I see that flag flying, it reminds me of the blood that I spilled for that flag," he said. "It reminds me of the blood my brother spilled when he was killed in Vietnam. So, there's meaning to it."

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Bugler Alan Nieuwsma performs for a brief ceremony honoring Pearl Harbor veterans Sunday. Grand Forks Herald photo by Jennifer Johnson

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