After practice, we grabbed a quick bite to eat for lunch and piled into the bus to begin our educational experience for the day. The afternoon started with a trip to the Iolani Palace, which we have learned about in our previous classes. Touring the palace of the last Hawaiian monarch, Queen Lili'uokalani, was so interesting and inspiring.
For those who don’t know, the last queen was imprisoned in one of the second floor rooms for resisting the American government. The room in which she was imprisoned only holds one thing: a giant, beautiful quilt which she stitched during her captivity. Both the quilt and the palace were remarkable and the narrated tour helped us learn even more about Hawaiian history.
The trip to the memorial was particularly special to me because my grandfather survived the Japanese attack in 1941 and was a member of the Pearl Harbor Survivor's Association. It was an emotional experience to be on the memorial which extends over the sunken battleship and to stand in front of the monument wall with the names of all those who gave their life on the U.S.S Arizona that December day.
My grandfather was guarding an electrical installation near the harbor and had a "bird's eye view" of the attack. He survived uninjured and continued to serve in the military during WWII, eventually becoming a very decorated soldier. His awards include receiving the combat Infantry Badge, the American defense Service Medal with a clasp, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two bronze service stars, the Purple Heart Medal, the Good Conduct Medal with a clasp, and the Word War II Victory Medal.
It is difficult to describe my feelings while visiting the memorial today. All I can say is that I am truly grateful for this once in a lifetime experience to visit Pearl Harbor and that this is a day I will never forget.
My grandfather was a decorated war hero and I am so glad I got to experience a place he committed one of his many acts of heroism.