Few veterans remain alive in the Greater New Milford area who could recall the emotions following the Dec. 7, 1941 attacks by the Japanese on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

A crowd of about 20 veterans, town leaders and residents gathered Monday at the war memorial on the south end of the Village Green in New Milford to help keep those memories from 68 years ago alive.

In spite of chilly temperature -- the grass was covered with frost -- they gathered because they believe the 2,335 soldiers who died in that early morning attack, and the 1,178 who were injured, should never be forgotten.

James Delancey, commander of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post, said this commemoration was foreshadowed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's infamous words: "Dec. 7, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy...''

"As long as I'm with the Veterans Committee, we will remember,'' said Mr. Delancey, a Vietnam-era Air Force veteran.

The ceremony included prayer, patriotic songs, a bagpipe rendition of "Amazing Grace'' and some brief reflections by town and veterans leaders, who called those who died at Pearl Harbor heroes.

"We say thank you," said veterans leader Dan Wetmore, before a two-gun salute was fired.

The veterans group also tossed a commemorative wreath into the Housatonic River.

VFW Ladies Auxiliary president Lynn Peet said Pearl Harbor is a reminder of how vulnerable we are as a people.

"This could happen any time,'' Ms. Peet said, noting that is why the nation must continue to appreciate those who serve in the military today.

Even though the ceremony was small in size, Mayor Patricia Murphy said it reflects a "huge spirit'' of a town grateful for all those who have served in the nation's military.

"It is our duty to remember how fragile is our security,'' said Ms. Murphy, an Army veteran. "Here in New Milford, we won't forget. We will remind people how great it is to be an American.''

"It is our duty to remember how fragile is our security. Here in New Milford, we won't forget. We will remind people how great it is to be an American.''

Pat Murphy

New Milford mayor