Today, thousands are gathered in Honolulu to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor.
And on Saturday, American Airlines flew 72 Pearl Harbor survivors and World War II veterans from Los Angeles to Honolulu on a charter flight to make sure the veterans could attend the ceremonies today.
The Fort Worth-based carrier, which supports several veteran organizations with its annual Sky Ball fundraiser and supports military families with Snowball Express, flew the veterans for free to Hawaii.
Captain Tim Knutson volunteered his time to pilot the flight to Hawaii and visited with several of the veterans on the flight about their service.
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“They are the strong ones, now at 91 years and older. You’ll be visiting with them and reflecting on what they have given and sacrificed and what their friends sacrificed,” Knutson said in a post on American’s website. “You can’t help but get emotional as you realize the extent of their service and commitment.”
On a personal note, I grew up in Hawaii and every year as an elementary student we would take a field trip to the USS Arizona Memorial to learn about the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was always so quiet when you’re at the memorial, looking at the names of those who died there, and seeing the small oil puddles floating on the ocean surface above the battleship.
My grandfather was a civilian worker at Pearl Harbor and was called in to work on December 7, 1941 after the attacks happened. He spent weeks cleaning up the harbor and the military bases. He never talked about what he saw and what it was like in the aftermath. It wasn’t until a ceremony was held in the 1990s, where Hawaii’s governor honored the civilian workers at Pearl Harbor, that my grandfather opened up a little about that day. As a first-generation Chinese American, he was very proud to be recognized for his service as a civilian at Pearl Harbor.
Today, on the 75th anniversary of the attacks, we remember.