A Trip to Hawaii
Thursday, December 12, 2019 John Coniglio
My wife Gina and I recently had the opportunity to visit the Island of Oahu and The US Naval Base at Pearl Harbor. What a beautiful place on this great Earth; the 50th State of our great Union with statehood received in 1959. The island is beautiful; the blue waters, green foliage, palms, and just friendly people. However, you can’t visit this beautiful place without going to Pearl Harbor, where a big part of America’s history is preserved for the public to see.
A scene on December 7, 1941 of great loss and inspiring stories of bravery and tragic outcomes. The beauty of the island versus the carnage of hostility is difficult to comprehend. On this day a surprise attack by the Empire of Japan occurred, essentially catching the USA off guard and ill-prepared to fend off the relentless attack of 2 waves of aircraft launched from 6 Japanese aircraft carriers beginning at 7:55 AM. Yet, beauty has a price as seen on this date. It seems so long ago but really stays close to our thoughts. What leads mankind to such terrible resolve and when does it stop?
The result was the destruction of 180 aircraft, and more than a dozen destroyed or damaged ships. 8 US Battleships were damaged with 4 sunk, including the US Battleship Arizona. 2,403 service personnel were killed with 1,178 wounded. Civilians were also caught in the swirling storm of disaster and were killed or wounded. The carnage led the US into the 2nd World War and is long remembered. Was this another war to end all wars? It seems doubtful given the continuing conflicts around the world.
While the visit to Pearl Harbor involves a walk back into history with the historical presentations and displays, the US Arizona takes a prominent place of awe and somber remembrance, well presented and preserved by the US National Park Service. This is a visit you should make if at all possible.
Arriving at the dock to embark on a boat ride handled by the US Navy, you can feel the loss looking out to the monument erected over the sunken Arizona; which is the resting place for over 1,000 sailors. Arriving, you can’t help but feel the reverence of the place, the ship, the resting place of so many. Somber, inspiring, respectful. In September of 2019, Lauren Bruner, the last of 4 survivors passed and will have his ashes interred on the Arizona. The description of how the ship takes back her sailors is especially inspiring as the Park Service Divers charged with the solemn task of placing the urn back upon the ship is described. Lauren Bruner will be the last sailor interned upon the ship as the last 3 remaining sailors have expressed other wishes. This is an exceptional experience and one that reminds me of the sacrifice so many make for our freedom and way of life.
This reflection is paramount as an example of what this great country of ours is made up of; people who will give their all, the greatest sacrifice, to protect us. Lest we never forget! May the souls of all lost in our defense rest in the peace and glory of our country, God and Beliefs.
Sadly, leaving on a Tuesday evening, we hear of a shooting on the Pearl Harbor Base the next day. It doesn’t seem to end, and we must always be prepared.
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