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Callander, 97, gives sendoff to Hawaii-bound Patriot Band

MADISON – December 7, 1941. “A day which will live in infamy.”

With those famous words, President Franklin D. Roosevelt began his speech the day after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor U.S. Naval Base. Within one hour, the U.S. Congress declared war on Japan and aggressively entered World War II.

One of World War II’s veterans who deployed to the Pearl Harbor aftermath is Sherwin Callander of Madison, who is 97 years old. Callander visited with members of Bob Jones High School Band before they departed to Hawaii to perform at various ceremonies marking the anniversary of Pearl Harbor attacks.

As band members double-checked their final preparations before leaving, Callander gave them a special sendoff on Dec. 4 and spoke briefly with the band about the carnage he saw at Pearl Harbor.

“It’s hard to believe how much destruction there was,” Callander said about the Pearl Harbor massacre. Callander reminded students that the servicemen who died there weren’t much older than they are today. America would be much different today if not for the men and women of the military who serve and continuously defend our country, he said.

“They call us ‘heroes’ who came back. We’re not heroes. The heroes are the ones buried in the graveyards” who gave their life fighting for this country, Callander said.

Callander urged students to thank a veteran, police officer and anyone else in uniform, whenever they get a chance. He said is proud of the band for going to Pearl Harbor representing Madison and the state of Alabama.

Students remained very attentive during Callander’s speech, John S. Peck said. Peck is Manager of Public Relations for Madison City Schools. Many students went up to Callander afterward to shake his hand or give him a hug.

Band members worked hard all year raising money for the trip. In Hawaii, the Bob Jones students participated in opening ceremonies, marched in the 2017 Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade and performed with Marine Corps Forces Pacific Band in closing ceremonies.

Callander has a great-grandson who played in the Patriot Band.

James Clemens High School Band was the first instrumental group from Madison to travel outside the continental United States when they marched in the London New Year’s Day Parade on Jan. 1, 2017.

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