Exhibit Honors Veterans Connected To Students, Staff
December 8th, 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave a speech that ushered the United States into the Second World War.
“Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”
Nearing 75 years later, an audience at Hudson Valley Community College listened to Roosevelt’s entire 6 and a half minute address.
Herman Eberhardt, supervisory museum curator at the Franklin Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park, lectured on Roosevelt’s first 24 hours after the attack that crippled the U.S. Naval fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
In addition to the recording of the president, Eberhardt also played a radio broadcast from first lady Eleanor Roosevelt: a moment just as significant.
“I think a lot of people don’t realize that she was the first Roosevelt to speak to the nation on December 7th. She had that regularly scheduled Sunday evening radio program that she did every Sunday evening. And she realized after the attack that her prepared remarks were not going to work. She had to acknowledge what was going on at that moment. So she rewrote her opening the afternoon of December 7th only a couple of hours after learning of the attack. And at 6:30 p.m. that evening she goes on national radio and delivers a really remarkable speech, I think, that shows tremendous composure and is a very powerful speech,” said Eberhardt.
“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, I am speaking to you tonight at a very serious moment in our history. The Cabinet is convening and the leaders in Congress are meeting with the President. The State Department and Army and Navy officials have been with the President all afternoon. In fact, the Japanese ambassador was talking to the president at the very time that Japan's airships were bombing our citizens in Hawaii and the Phillippines and sinking one of our transports loaded with lumber on its way to Hawaii. By tomorrow morning the members of Congress will have a full report and be ready for action."
Eberhardt’s lecture opened Hudson Valley Community College’s annual “Pride of Our Nation… Pride of Our College” exhibit. Now in its sixth year, the exhibit includes a collection of photos and memorabilia of veterans and service members connected to college students and employees.
After a cake was cut in the presence of veterans from World War II up through the decades, History Professor Alice Malavasic said the exhibit has grown over the years. She said the seeds of it were planted at a Veterans Day flag raising ceremony in 2007, when she brought a portrait of her father. Two others also brought photos to the ceremony.
“The very first exhibit we did we had only 13 pictures. But each one told the story of the veteran and then it connected it to the person on campus. So if you look at each one, each one will say 'Father of…so and so who is a student' or “granddaughter of…'. For instance my own father’s picture, it says 'Alice Malavasic, Professor of History.'"
Carrie Farley, New York State President of American Gold Star Mothers, lost her son, Staff Sergeant Derek Farley, in Afghanistan.
Farley said she enjoys seeing the pride in those who submit photos, or a helmet, or a uniform.
“We need to educate our young. Whether we like it or not, that we still have a war going on, that they should be prideful. And there’s young people their age that are giving to this country and protecting their freedoms,” said Farley.
According to Farley, Hudson Valley Community College is an institution with one of the highest percentages of veterans in the Capital Region, with about 350 attending.
The “Pride of Our Nation… Pride of Our College” exhibit is open to the public at the Marvin Library Learning Commons and runs through Pearl Harbor Day, December 7th.
7 a.m. – 10 p.m. Monday – Thursday
7 a.m. – 5 p.m. Friday
9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday
Closed Nov. 23 – Nov. 26 for Thanksgiving weekend