Friday, December 09, 2005

We Will Not Drop the Torch

USNA-At-Large, LCDR Davidson represents us well in the Pittsburgh area on Pearl Harbor Day, for The American Experiment, John Howland

KEEPING the spirit alive

Thursday, December 8, 2005



CANFIELD — "You want to touch a piece of history?" asked Robert Bishop, as he pulled a two-inch piece of black metal from his pocket.

"This a fragment of one of the two Japanese bombs that hit my ship in Pearl Harbor and killed several shipmates," said Bishop, who was aboard the battleship USS Tennessee when the Japanese attacked Sunday morning, Dec. 7, 1941.

Bishop, of West Austintown, and his wife, Doris, were among the veterans and their friends and families who attended the Pearl Harbor Commemoration ceremony Wednesday morning at the Mahoning Veterans Memorial on the Canfield Fairgrounds.

After the ceremony, Bishop and Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brad B. Davidson, commander of the Naval and Marine Corps Reserve Center at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna, placed a wreath at the base of the monument to veterans of all wars.

Inscribed on the monument are these words: "The hero dead cannot expire: The dead still play their part."

Then Bishop, Davidson and John P. Brown of Youngstown, 2nd national vice commander of the AMVETS, lowered the flag to half-staff in memory of those who died in the Pearl Harbor attack.

Included in ceremony

The ceremony, hosted by AMVETS Post 44, included a display of World War II photographs collected by the late Maurice Murphy Damelio of Girard, who served in the Navy during the war. The pictures were provided by his son, James Damelio of Girard.

Bishop, whose battle station was deep in the heart of the Tennessee, said he could feel the ship shake when it was hit or when bombs hit nearby. He had radio contact with those topside during the attack, so had some idea about what was happening.

But when he went topside himself, he said what he saw was "unbelievable." His own ship was hit twice but was still afloat. But alongside the Tennessee, the USS West Virginia was burning, the USS California had sunk and the USS Oklahoma was bottom-up in the harbor.

"It is almost impossible to express my feelings at that moment," said Bishop, who is a member and past commander of Pearl Harbor Association's Mahoning Valley Chapter 5.

Importance of programs

Bishop, 84, said commemorative programs like the one Wednesday are important.

"I think we need to remember the people who sacrificed their lives for their country," he said.

"I and my generation have the luxury of knowing the history that was written in the blood of and by our greatest generation. It is those individuals that survived or sacrificed their lives that day that we are here to honor today," said Lt. Cmdr. Davidson, main speaker for the program.

"It is because of that effort that we are able to stand here today ... protected under the umbrella of freedoms that were paid for in full by the selfless sacrifice of those before us," said Davidson, a Naval aviator and 1993 graduate of the Naval Academy.

"Many of you here today remember Pearl Harbor. It is not just a fact of history in a book ... but real and a part of your life forever. You remember the lessons we learned from Pearl Harbor, that we must always be vigilant and prepared. We want those who follow us to remember, and to understand that the freedoms they enjoy today have carried a high price. We need to pass on to our children, as you have done, the same liberties that were preserved for us. We need to keep faith in God and country and, if necessary, to shed blood to keep it so.

"It is that American resolve and that American spirit that the survivors of Pearl Harbor have taught us. We are all humbled by their sacrifice, and rest assured, we have accepted the responsibilities that freedom involves. We will not drop the torch," Davidson said.


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