On the 72nd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor Saturday, the
structure spanning the Farmington River on Route 185 in Simsbury was
official dedicated as the "Bataan Corregidor Memorial Bridge."
The honor acknowledges the sacrifice of so many veterans who fought, died and suffered during the Battle of Bataan and the Battle of Corregidor in 1942 and the slave labor camps that surrounded the campaigns in the Philippines.
The only known surviving Connecticut residents from those
campaigns, Simsbury's own Dan Crowley and Darrell D. Stark of Stafford
Springs, were on hand for the dedication, which included speeches, musical
performance, a blessing, dedication, flyovers by the Yankee Clippers and more.
Both men were prisoners of war at the hands of the Japanese for more than 3 and half years, enduring situations commonly described as some of the harshest crimes against humanity.
“We will honor these national heroes and their stories will live on,” said State Sen. Kevin Witkos, who hosted the dedication.
Crowley lobbied for the designation and legislation was introduced by state Witkos and co-introduced by state Rep. John Hampton. The ceremony included remarks Witkos and Hampton, as well as Crowley, First Selectman Mary Glassman, U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
Blumenthal said the bridge was functional, more than it was grand, an appropriate tribute to the men who often go unrecognized but have given so much for our freedom and stand as strong symbols, he said.
“The bridge is vivid in its simplicity and elemental strength,” he said.
“Bataan and Corregidor continue to inspire our warriors.”
Esty built on that theme, saying that a simple act of crossing a bridge and making daily choices was thanks to these and other veterans, while Glassman said all Americans are indebted to them.
“They serve as an inspiration to all of us,” Glassman said.
Hampton said the ceremony also serves as a reminder that veterans coming
home need more support.
“Our work doesn’t end today,” Hampton said. “We have to think of ways we
can welcome home our veterans.
Also participating Saturday was Boy Scout Troop 76, who led the pledge of allegiance. Members of the Simsbury Light Opera Company performed America the Beautiful, featuring Steve Curylo and a God Bless American performance with George Matt and Robert Scalla. Father Michael White of Saint Catherine of Sienna blessed the bridge, Jim Martocchio performed U.S. Service songs and the Yankee Clippers did a Missing Man formation flyover.
Witkos also presented Crowley with a ceremonial sign.
Crowley and Stark cut a ribbon, signifying the naming of the bridge and the ceremony ended with Taps performed by John Zenisky.
Read more about Crowley’s story here.