Saturday, December 10, 2011

Pearl Harbor Day 2011

Jason and I traveled to Hawaii last week to be with the high school band. Our band was invited to perform at the 70th Anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor. December 7th was an absolutely amazing day and I wanted to be able to document it here.

It is important to say that the 70th Anniversary was a large one because the survivors are aging. The youngest are in their late 80s. Even the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association is disbanding at the end of December 2011, citing age and health of its directors.

I didn't really know what to expect... I didn't know what emotions I would feel or what the survivors would look like...

It was an incredible day. 

The phrase, "We Will Never Forget", now echos in my memory. 

We walked into the memorial to find thousands of people. Many in uniform, many in tears, and a proud few with "Pearl Harbor Survivor" written on their caps. For those few, you could tell that this event that happened 70 years ago was fresh on their minds. 

What I definitely didn't expect was for so many of the survivors to want to openly speak about that day to everyone. Jason and I had the opportunity to hear this man's story, as he looked out onto the harbor, and that is a moment I will never forget. 

Another Pearl Harbor Survivor

These men were survivors of the USS Utah. On December 7, 1941, their ship was attacked and actually sunk, flipping belly up in the harbor (where it still sits). On that day, 30 officers and 431 enlisted men survived the ship's loss; six officers and 52 enlisted men died.

The USS Arizona suffered the largest loss on December 7th, 1941. The explosion killed 1,177 of the 1,400 crewmen onboard, and though half were loss at the point of the explosion, the others died in the moments (and days) that followed from drowning and suffocation. 

I learned that many of the survivors from the USS Arizona have chosen to have their remains cremated and entombed back on the sunken ship with their crewmen. One Arizona survivor died just a few weeks ago. His entombment back onto the USS Arizona occurred on December 7th, 2011. 

The USS Oklahoma also experienced a great loss on December 7, 1941. On that date, 429 men loss their lives. The memorial is breathtaking.  

It was our great privilege to be able to perform for this incredible event. 

If you've ever wondered why schools would approve the absence of students who travel to Hawaii you'd just need to look in the eyes  of the students we traveled with after they experienced Pearl Harbor Day 2011. 

Pearl Harbor is now something they will never forget. 


Karen DeLamar said...

thank you for sharing.....

Gail Rhinehart said...

Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this! We are so proud to have Directors, Asst. Directors,District Management, band students and chaperones to value a trip like this. I saw so many of the kids experiencing the start of WWII thru the eyes of the Pearl Harbor Survivors. I was amazed by such a great group of kids that represented the band, Dist 5, etc. so professionally. Also after their performances, their were no dry eyes to be had by anyone! Thanks to all! Sandra Austin

Melissa Rhodes said...

I am so proud and honored that Brianne was able take part in this once in a lifetime moment to honor the men and women who so boldly gave their all. Thank you so much for sharing and taking care of our babies.

Jayne Harrelson said...

Thanks for posting! You did a beautiful job documenting our day at Pearl Harbor. The experience was one that none of us will ever forget.

Meredith said...

Thank you for sharing, Alicia.

The Dales said...

I bet that was incredible to experience. When we went 5 years ago, just being at that memorial was emotional for me. I can't imagine having the survivors there. What an experience for those high schoolers!