Friday, December 7, 2012

Pearl Harbor Survivors

When visiting Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, it is very easy to think about all the dead.  Soldiers who still lie undisturbed and entombed in the rusting hulk of the USS Arizona are memorialized with the famous white building above the waves.  There are honor rolls for the dead from other ships, to nurses, firemen, civilians and other dead scattered around the park.  Museums, videos and books in the gift shop list names, photos and stories of those who lost their lives that fateful day.

The USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor
However, many people also survived the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Their bravery and sacrifice at just being there and witnessing the horrors cannot be forgotten.  I've been to this hallowed ground twice, and each time I see elderly men and women, wearing their medals, veteran's caps and other insignia while on tour. Their solemn serious faces inspire awe, and they appear older and more frail each time I visit.

I was very happy to see two smiling, energetic faces at the visitor center.  These two gentlemen in the photos below were mugging for photos and signing their memoirs and books for the delight of tourists. They were both survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and regular visitors and exhibitors at the National monument. It reminded me to think of the strong, vigorous young soldiers they must have been in 1941.  Their energy was inspirational!

Sterling Cale and Alfred Rodrigues
meeting visitors to Pearl Harbor and signing their books of memoirs

As time goes marching on we are losing these few Pearl Harbor survivor and other veterans of World War II at an ever increasing rate.  It was enlightening to see how the young people of today were so thrilled to meet these men, and to hear the questions they asked.  Living history at it's best!

US Today story from 2007 about the Pearl Harbor survivors:

Diary of a Pearl Harbor Suvivor by Alfred Rodrigues

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Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

1 comment:

  1. I love that they are there to share their stories! Reminds me of the man we met a few years ago at Mt. Rushmore - he worked on the mountain for a few years, wrote a book, and was in the gift shop to sign the book and answer questions. There is nothing like hearing about the event from someone who was there.