Larry and I were married in 1972 and we were gifted with a trip to Hawaii - all expenses paid. We have so many memories from that trip that we will never forget.
On our flight to Hawaii were many veterans from Pearl Harbor. We talked with them, laughed with them and shared stories together. Later I wished I had spent more time learning about their time in Pearl Harbor.
When our plane landed in Hawaii, we were greeted with beautiful leis and a free breakfast. We thoroughly enjoyed this treat.
We were then invited to go to the USS Arizona with the veterans. As soon as we arrived and saw the memorial, it took our breath away. We boarded the memorial and it seemed like we were at a family reunion. The veterans were all telling their stories. Some were laughing, some were crying, and they were sharing hugs with each other.
The memorial was filled with items that had been on the ship, and of course, there was the wall that held all the names of the veterans who didn't survive. There was a bell that was rung, and cases full of things that had been left behind. One of the vets told me, "if you think you know the facts, let me tell you the story from my eyes”. As he talked, I just couldn't stop crying. He made me feel as if I had been there.
That night we were invited to a luau on the beach. We looked all around us and just couldn't believe all the food that was there. I was served poi and I liked it. I found out later that it was used by Gerber baby food as a filling for the baby food formulas.
We had such a good time and met so many people during this wonderful trip. We flew to the other islands and were absolutely blown away with all the beauty surrounding us. We saw the Kodiak show on one of the islands. The veterans told us there were two groups of dancers. Their advice was “if you watch the hips of the older women you will miss the show. If you watch the hands of the young dancers you will miss the show.” We had a good laugh about this. It was our pleasure spending so much time with these veterans.
In closing, I will say my biggest regret is not getting their signatures or pictures. There are only three veterans from Pearl Harbor still alive now, but the memory of all of them will never be forgotten.
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