To thank our Veterans.

Fort DeRussy Museum

We were fortunate to be on Oahu for the Pearl Harbor Veterans events held at Fort DeRussy the afternoon of December 7th. The former army stronghold on Waikiki Beach is now an excellent museum (U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii) which took a couple of hours to tour. This museum is as well put together as any Smithsonian we have visited in Washington, DC. It’s free, so make sure to leave a donation to help keep it going.

One exhibit was, “America’s Secret Weapon: Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service” about Nisei—the second generation Japanese Americans who served in the U.S. military intelligence during the war. This is a story well-worth reading and learning about.

Other exhibits include a replicated shell magazine, an overview of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and an area about the Vietnam War. There was an exhibit about General Eric K. Shinseki, who rose to be the Army Chief of Staff (1999-2003) after many other life achievements. The displays are well arranged with adequate write-ups that provided an education.

Pearl Harbor 75th Anniversary

There were over 20 World War II Veterans at the Infantry Divisions Flying V ceremony with several mentioned in particular for being in the Army on that infamous day.

The crowd was respectful and comprised a wide variety of people. From the second floor of the bunker, we tried to snap pictures of the men as they arrived. My heart melted a little (more) with each one who walked, perhaps a hand on the arm of a young solider, perhaps with a cane. But they walked, every single one of them, and made their way from vehicle to chair.

After the celebratory events, which were well-hosted, including a 21-Howitzer salute and a group of soldiers performing the Ha’a Koa (traditional dance of the warrior), visitors had the opportunity to visit with the men. A few looked dazed by the attention and the thanks being bestowed.

Howitzer salute

Howitzer salute

 

For a moment, one soldier stood by himself so I took the opportunity to say hello and ask a bit about him. Captain Jerry Yellin is an author and is currently seeking funding for a film project about his life, Last Man Standing. One of his books is, “Of War and Weddings,” which tells the true story of his son marrying a Japanese woman whose father was a Kamikaze pilot. In our brief minutes together, Mr. Yellin conveyed the impact this had on his hostile feelings toward the Japanese. Mr. Yellin has the distinction of being the fighter pilot who flew the last combat mission of the war.

Captain Jerry Yellin

Captain Jerry Yellin

 

In walking from the Fort to the stage area for Gary Sinise’s pre-parade events, I had a hard time keeping pace with this 93-year-old. He’s fit, trim, and obviously a man with a purpose. Or several of them. He said that he’d lost his wife of 65 years the previous year and I asked how he stayed married for that long. He had three pieces of advice: respect each other, give space to your partner, and provide support. Sounds good to me.

Please visit his website, read his blogs and assist his current work.

Gary Sinise Foundation

Gary Sinise was the Grand Marshall for the parade and gave a brief and humble speech. I learned that one of the reasons he created his foundation was that in addition to his dad, he had two uncles in the military. If you want to understand more about the vast reach of this foundation (nine different programs!), please watch the YouTube Video and check out the foundation’s site.

We say thank you and hear…

Something that strikes me when I meet our World War II Veterans or watch an interview with them is that in response to our thanks they frequently respond, “I wish I could have done more.”

We who haven’t served know that they have already done so much.

And finally,

My husband thanking a Veteran with a great smile.

My husband thanking a Veteran with a great smile.