Around New England

Westfield Marks 77th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor, Remembering Local Connection

December 7, 2018

The western Massachusetts city of Westfield marked the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Friday, December 7, the 77th anniversary.

The city of about 41,000 is one of relatively few communities in the country that commemorates the occasion every year, in a public park that is partly named for a casualty.

Kane & Wojtkiewicz Park is named after a Westfield resident who died during World War I (Lieutenant William H. Kane) and Frank P. Wojtkiewicz, a Westfield resident who was serving as a navy chief on USS Arizona when Japanese airplanes attacked on the morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941. He was one of the 1,177 men who died on the ship, which sank.

A cousin of Wojtkiewicz was one of the approximately 40 people who came to the ceremony on Friday. Steve Wichrowski Jr. was born a couple of years after the Pearl Harbor attack, but he remembers family members talking about him when they would get together on Christmas Eve, according to MassLive.com.

On Cape Cod, the town of Yarmouth also marked the occasion with a ceremony that included tossing a wreath into the water at Bass River Beach, according to the Cape Cod Times.

In Fall River, a ceremony included throwing a wreath into the Taunton River from the Battleship Massachusetts at Battleship Cove, according to the Fall River Herald News. A Pearl Harbor veteran, Freeman Johnson, attended, according to the Herald News, who reported that he served on the USS St. Louis. That ship was in Pearl Harbor at the start of the attack but managed to make it out to sea.

In Boston, no Pearl Harbor survivors attended the ceremony on the USS Cassin Young at the Charlestown Navy Yard. It included several speeches and tossing a wreath into the water, according to The Boston Globe.

The Brockton Enterprise has a story about a 98-year-old Brockton resident who is a Pearl Harbor survivor, George Hursey.  

The attack brought the United States into World War II.

 

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