Pearl Harbor visit lets New Haven couple pay proper tribute to family’s military heritage

JAN HATTON (click here for the complete Journal Gazette story)

It was a trip long awaited … our two-week vacation in Maui and Oahu that we had intended to take for more than 30 years.

My husband and I are not the typical vacationers, not thrill-seekers anxious for the helicopter flight over the live volcano, no parasailing over the Pacific, no dolphin or shark encounters, and you could not count us among the witnesses to the surfer who lost three fingers and his foot while battling the waves in Maui while we were there.

Don and I share a love for nature and, above all, the people and the history behind every spot we visit. You might say we meticulously plan our destinations according to what the area offers and the historical tours that entice us to visit. My father, my Uncle Blake and my husband, Don, are all Army veterans; my brother, Charlie, is a veteran of the Marine Corps; and our son, Don, served as a Navy sailor. This trip to Hawaii, the culmination of our 30-year dream, was about Pearl Harbor.

My father served in the Philippines during World War II. I will always treasure his story about the brass Bible he carried in his breast pocket, given to him by his mother when he was drafted right out of North Side High School. It stopped a bullet from penetrating his chest or, as Dad always put it, “saved his life.”

On Oct. 16, Don and I took the Stars and Stripes Tour from Oahu offered by Roberts Hawaii. We heard about the 1,177 men who lost their lives aboard the USS Arizona on Dec. 7, 1941. At the memorial, there is a somber silence as you peer over the side at the hull of the sunken ship below. A recording by Jamie Lee Curtis endears visitors to the site, as the voices of the survivors emotionally explain what they recall of the attack. A wall bears the name of every man who lies beneath. This memorial is about dignity and respect for those who gave their lives protecting us. The two quarts of oil that continue to seep into the ocean daily from the Arizona are said to be the tears of the crew still aboard.

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POSTED: 12/07/15 at 7:49 pm. FILED UNDER: News, Opinions