By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,650)
The 46th annual remembrance service of the attack on Pearl Harbor was held yesterday afternoon at Charles J. Loring Jr. Memorial Park on Portland’s Eastern Promenade. The attack on Pearl Harbor happened 72 years ago, December 7, 1941. The service was held at the Memorial Park rather than at the site of the USS Portland Memorial at Ft. Allen Park due to a $1 million dollar restoration project underway there. The work is expected to be completed by next year’s WW 11 service.
Guest speaker for this year’s remembrance was Retired Army Colonel Dan Haley, Aide-de-Camp to Governor Paul LePage for Veterans Affairs. In his remarks, Haley gave a sweeping overview of this nation’s wars and conflicts, sometimes citing the significant role Portland played in them. Part of the LePage administration, Haley delivered greetings to the 75 or so from the Governor and reminded them that Governor LePage has been “good to veterans.”
“Seventy two years ago, December 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor we suffered 2403 military and civilian casualties and another 1100 were injured. Eight of nine battleships in the Pacific including the Arizona were sunk or severely damaged, as well as three cruisers, three destroyers and four other naval vessels. 75% of the planes were destroyed. Luckily the three aircraft carriers were not in port. America had been reluctant to enter a global conflict but the destruction heaped on Pearl Harbor that fateful Sunday left no choice. As Japanese Admiral Yamamoto said they woke a sleeping giant,” said Haley in prepared remarks.
Haley went on to point out that because of Portland’s deep water harbor (one of the deepest on the East Coast) and the city’s proximity to European ports, Casco Bay became home port for the North Atlantic Fleet. Liberty Supply ships were built just across the harbor in South Portland. They were constructed quickly and known for their speed, but not for their longevity. These ships were used to supply Russians with food and weapons in their struggle with Nazi Germany. The Arctic Campaign Memorial is at the base of the USS Portland mast, Haley pointed out.
“Today we are drawing down our forces as we did after WWll. But today’s veterans have and will return to a more challenging economy without as many job opportunities. It is essential that we provide our veterans with the medical care to heal, the means to succeed and by no means should any veteran be homeless,” said Haley.
The Charles J. Loring Memorial Park was established in 2000 in his memory, a hero in the Korean Conflict. Attending the service yesterday was his youngest brother Paul Loring. A painting of Loring hangs in the State of Maine room at city hall.
Haley lives on the Eastern Promenade. The Haley Insurance Co. is his familys’ business begun by his late father.