Monday, July 17, 2017
It’s strange to be thinking about tragedy when we are surrounded by so much beauty. Today we explored various perspectives of the attack on Pearl Harbor. We began by hearing from two men who witnessed the attack as children. Their story illustrated how this event transformed lives in an instant. Their perspective of the attack, and the treatment of their Japanese-American neighbors was unique, seen through their young eyes.
We then heard from Dr. Mitch Yamasaki, a professor at Chaminade University of Honolulu, who helped us understand the rise of Japan as a power in the Pacific. His discussion illustrated how Japan sought to rival the strength of western powers by transforming their military and political infrastructure. Dr. Yamasaki’s discussion left us eager to learn more about this transitional period in world history.
After meeting a 100-year-old World War II veteran who flew bombers during the Guadalcanal campaign, we split into learning groups to take advantage of some of the other learning opportunities available at Pearl Harbor. From the Pacific Aviation Museum, to the decks of the USS Missouri and the USS Bowfin, and even a modern NOAA facility, we gained varied perspectives on the impact that Pearl Harbor can have in our classrooms.
To round out our day, we traveled to the USS Arizona Memorial. Making an already emotional experience more poignant, we were joined by the family of Pearl Harbor survivor and Medal of Honor recipient Chief Petty Officer John Finn. The navy’s newest guided missile destroyer bears his name. Following an invocation by an Air Force chaplain in the shrine room, a gentle rain began to fall. Katie shared a moving eulogy for Seaman Second Class Bruce Bradley. As she finished, a rainbow arched across the harbor.
Pearl Harbor offers both beautiful and tragic perspectives on the lives of those who came before us. They inspire us to remember, learn, and share the lessons of the past.