25 July 2008

Hawaii - Day 10

Today is not over yet, but I had a few minutes, so I figured I would upload my pics and write about what we did today. Travis, Eric, Karen and I woke up at 5:30am to leave by 6:15am for Pearl Harbor. When we arrived at 7:01am, the line to get in was already snaking around the park. Apparently, they take 150 people out on each boat and there were only 6 tickets left for the third boat so we were 444 people back in line (or something like that).

When we got our tickets, Karen and I hit the gift shop and ran into the incredibly rude lady from the pineapple plantation the other day. I bought a bracelet that says "December 7, 1941 Remember Understand Honor Pearl Harbor," mostly because I have a bracelet from The Wall in Washington D.C. and while I don't wear them, I do see them and they remind me of the incredibly brave soldiers who give their lives so that we can live in a free country. There were 3 Pearl Harbor survivors sitting at the visitors center signing papers and I really wanted to go up to them and say "Thank you for serving" I couldn't because just thinking about it got me all emotional.

At 8:15am, we went into the theatre and watched the documentary about what happened at Pearl Harbor and some of the history behind the event. Then, we boarded the boat, and headed out the USS Arizona Memorial. It was all I could do not to burst into tears and I have no ties to anyone who was there. It just makes me so sad to think of all of those young soldiers whose lives were cut short. The wall with all of the names was so powerful, as well as the short wall with the survivors who've been interred with their fellow soldiers.

I stood on the memorial and was overcome with sadness and gratitude for the men who serve our country. I stood over the well and looked down at the remains of the USS Arizona and was struck by the amazing capacity that humans have for destruction and hatred. I was also struck by the camaraderie that exists between soldiers and was reminded of the book "Band of Brothers." How incredible to see the honor that exists among soldiers and for soldiers. I also got to see the oil leaking up from the ship and was reminded of a documentary that said that the oil is to remind us of the tears of those who lost their loved ones on that day.

Finally, as we were leaving, I stopped and took a couple of pictures of the flag that has been waving above the USS Arizona since that day. I'm so proud to live in a country where we have so many freedoms and I'm so grateful that there are soldiers who willingly put their lives on the line so that we can keep and enjoy these freedoms. I'm also very grateful for opportunity we have to honor those soldiers in such beautiful memorials.


TetVet said...

America's oldest living Medal of Honor recipient, now living his 100th year is former enlisted Aviation Chief Ordnanceman (ACOM), later wartime commissioned Lieutenant John W. Finn, USN (Ret.). He is also the last surviving Medal of Honor, "The Day of Infamy", Japanese Attack on the Hawaiian Islands, Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii, 7 December 1941.

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