Veterans remember Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona

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PARIS — In December the Maine Veterans’ Home in South Paris hosted a special Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day event, the unveiling of a piece of the USS Arizona that sank 71 years earlier. Of the more than 2,500 service members killed during the Japanese attack, almost half died aboard the Arizona. MVH and the Western Maine Veterans’ Advisory Committee, with the support of Sen. Olympia Snowe’s office, worked to obtain a small piece of steel, measuring about 30 inches long and 12 inches wide.

“This is a unique piece of American history that is symbolic in several ways,” said Joel Dutton, the home’s administrator. “This represents the lives that were lost aboard the ship that day and it represents the beginning of the United States’ involvement in WWII.”

The USS Arizona still lies at the bottom of Pearl Harbor in Honolulu as a memorial. When that memorial was constructed more than 50 years ago, parts of the ship were removed to enable the construction of a memorial structure. Recently both MVH and the WMVAC began working with Sen. Snowe’s staff to request a piece of the removed steel to be displayed at the home at 477 High St.

The event featuring the presentation of the artifact from the Arizona included guest speaker Navy Lt. Commander (Ret.) Dale Piirainen, posting of the Colors by the WMVAC Color Guard and tours of the facility.

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Several WWII veterans were in attendance. The actions that day of Bert Davis, an MVH resident who was stationed in Pearl Harbor, were narrated by Dutton as Davis no longer speaks. Davis, a nearby Navy destroyer crew member, rushed to assist USS Arizona survivors. Davis sat in front of the large audience as Dutton talked about the heroic and tragic events Davis encountered.

“I cannot phantom the circumstances Bert endured that day, 71 years ago,” said Dutton. “But hopefully this piece of the Arizona will help us never forget such a significant event in our history. We are greatly honored to have this here.”

The piece of the USS Arizona, from the ship’s deck house, will be on display at the home and will travel to area schools to help educate.

For information about this event, contact Jeff Roosevelt at (207) 430-4473.

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