by: Diane Ako
PEARL HARBOR (KHNL)- No matter which side of the war the veterans fought on, they have one thing in common. They want to keep the memory of the war alive so younger generations learn from it.
As the 7 veterans of the USS Arizona return to the memorial, a line of young active duty sailors salute, to old sailors walking down memory lane. Don Stratton is a USS Arizona survivor. "We seen some of the planes bombing Ford island. We saw them bank and saw the insignia. I started for my battle station."
65 years ago, they saw the bombs drop, and comrades killed. "We're just lucky to be here," Stratton says.
They come from all over to remember. Stratton nearly died on the USS Arizona. On the memorial, his wife Velma offers flowers to the men below. She says through tears, "I'm throwing flowers because my husband was aboard. He is alive but he was burned so badly. And those are his shipmates down there."
Dive bomber pilot Zenji Abe attacked Pearl Harbor in the second wave of attacks over Oahu at 9 a.m. He is one of the few Japanese pilots to survive the war. He says through a translator, it's important to remember Pearl Harbor because "The world changed so much in the 2nd half of the 20th century because of Pearl Harbor."
Abe wrote a book. He says the attack was unnecessary and he regrets it. He hopes to influence the younger generation. "People must have a grasp of history for mankind to progress. If we had done enough study of history then maybe things could've been different with the Pacific War, Korean War, Vietnam War, and so on. So remember Pearl Harbor. It's a very important thing."
These Fruita 8/9 students flew from Colorado to hear talks by Abe, as well as the American veterans. Freshman Lillian Redding says, "It's moving for me to be here. It's a historical place and my grandfather was here."
The veterans say they are hopeful their children's children will never have to endure the same hell. Stratton futhers, "To keep this in front of this public is what I'm trying to do. I'm not a hero. The heroes are still out there on the ship. But I want to keep it in front of the public so this doesn't happen again."