A Visit To Pearl Harbor

 

I went to Hawaii for my honeymoon and knew I wanted to visit Pearl Harbor as it’s such an important part of our history.

When I got off the plane of Honolulu my husband saw a few people carrying American flags and immediately brought them to my attention since as a true UWVC’er I am interested in all things patriotic. I was not expecting to see members of a Color Guard! I spoke with them and they explained that a survivor of USS Arizona recently died and his family had flown to Hawaii to bury him. It was a powerful way to start the trip.

A few days later we decided to go to Pearl Harbor to pay our respects and to learn the history. Pearl Harbor today is both an active military base, memorial and national historic landmark. We arrived and got an audio tour of the grounds narrated by Jamie Lee Curtis whose father was a World War 2 Veteran. From there we took a boat ride to visit the memorial of the USS Arizona, a representation of the greatest loss of life of any ship in US Naval history. I noticed a few scuba divers taking practice dives on the memorial. Thinking it was a little out of place, I went over to one of the park rangers who explained a USS Arizona survivor’s family would be coming later today and they will be conducting a ceremony where the National Park Service diver will place an urn carrying the ashes of an Arizona crewman so he can lay with his fellow shipmates. This must have been the same survivor whose family was greeted by the Color Guard in the airport.

I have no personal connection to this sailor or his family, but somehow I feel I am honoring his memory. I don’t know his story or how his life was affected by Pearl Harbor I know that after 85+ years of life this is where he wanted to be buried and that says enough.

In learning about the history from the national park one sentence struck me that I will share: “The USS Arizona Memorial is a mortally wounded sentinel symbolizing valor and sacrifice to all the ships that sail past her ghostly remains.“ It is so important to have memorials because that is how we keep the memories of those we lost alive; if we don’t honor each other who will?

When I returned to the office and shared my story apparently it was all over the news and my co-workers heard about it. Upon researching here is the new story about the veteran named Raymond Haerry and the ceremony made in his honor.

-Michelle Rosenfeld UWVC