Two years ago, my mother, sister and I were headed off to Hawaii. It was a dream trip that I never in my whole life expected to make. But it was a time of healing and renewing our shrinking family’s bonds, that made this trip what it was. My brother had passed away earlier that year.
During the many site seeing expeditions along the way, I can remember thinking to myself, that these islands truly are paradise on earth. Everything was so lush and so green, with a myriad of plants and trees, hills and valleys and beautiful people everywhere.
Not being American, I did not expect that a visit to the site of the Pearl Harbour bombings, would really impress me so much. Was I ever wrong.
We watched a movie (for those of us post WWII babies), about what had taking place, and how this escalated to the War that saw so many lives lost from so many countries. From the moment we boarded the water craft, that would take us out to the Monument, there was a sense of awe and quiet reflection on my part, about what had occurred at this very spot. I don’t think I understood it at all. I was humbled and grateful all at the same time.
Pearl Harbour is on the island of Oahu just west of Honolulu. It had been in use by the US since 1820 as a whaling, trading and shipping center. As it became more and more involved in trade, there was at least one warship keeping the peace between ships of different countries that used the same harbour. As years went by, the harbour became an American naval base where ships were repaired, and the military had a presence, at all times.
Dec. 7, 1941, saw the destruction of much of the American Naval base with the sinking of the Arizona in the early hours of the morning. Japanese bombers dropped bombs that would sink 4 battleships and damage many more. Over 300 Japanese planes were involved in this surprise attack. It was this attack that cemented the need for the US to get involved in the war.
Fast forward to 1960, Elvis was finished with his tour in the army and there was hopes that he would start his own musical tours again. Such was not to be the case. Elvis continued to focus on his movie career instead. From 1960-1968 he only performed 3 concerts. Two were in Memphis and one in Hawaii.
The concert in Hawaii was organized because they needed funds for a memorial, (that had been in the planning stages) for the crew of the Arizona which was sunk during the bombing of Pearl Harbour. Elvis played to a crowd of over 5,000 people, who paid $3, 3.50 and 5.00 a piece and some special “attendees” who paid $100.00 each. Even Elvis and his entourage had to pay to get into the show.
It was a success in raising over $60,000. for the memorial in Pearl Harbour. With this sum, the government decided to build what is now the Memorial to the Arizona in Pearl Harbour.
And Elvis is still making money for the Memorial with the sales of memorabilia, T-shirts and the like. If you ever get a chance to visit Hawaii, your visit must include the Arizona Memorial, you will never forget it.
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