This pint-sized history buff is on a mission to help preserve the legacies of Dec. 7′s heroes

The fascination with the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona grew out of a school project he did on U.S. landmarks.
Published: Jun. 24, 2022 at 4:28 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 24, 2022 at 4:38 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - “Hi, I’m Harrison Johnson. I’m in third grade.”

That’s how Harrison opened a short YouTube video in which the 9-year-old asks for help to raise money for the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. “Join me in donating today,” he says, in the closing frames.

Harrison and his mom, dad and sister live in Raleigh, North Carolina.

He’s a youngster whose heroes don’t come out of comic books.

“Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, most children my age view them as heroes. Not me. I view the people who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the Pearl Harbor attack as my heroes,” he said.

The fascination with the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona grew out of a school project he did on U.S. landmarks.

“Most of my generation don’t know a lot about Pearl Harbor,” he said.

To learn all he could, he did a deep dive. He studied historical accounts and immersed himself in survivor stories.

And then he begged his parents to take him to Pearl Harbor.

[Help Harrison raise money for the memorial by clicking here.]

In April, he got his wish with a one-day trip to Oahu to finally see what he’d been talking about to anyone who’d listen. He also made a video of his whirlwind tour for his school assignment.

“This exhibit lists persons, military and civilian, who died as a result of the attack,” he said, pointing out one of the many message boards at the USS Arizona’s visitor center.

Being there in person motivated him to launch his fundraising effort for the memorial, and he’s set an ambitious goal.

“He said, ‘I want to raise $100,000.’ I took a deep breath. My husband did as well,” said his mother, Cheznee.

“We said, ‘Did you mean a thousand?’. which is a really big number. He said, ‘No. I want to raise $100,000.’ Then he corrected himself and said, ‘I’m going to raise $100,000!’” she said.

Harrison named his campaign Harrison’s Heroes. He’s already raised nearly $8,000.

On Memorial Day he sold ice cream at an event in his hometown. All the contributions he gets, big and small, go to Pacific Historic Parks, stewards of the Pearl Harbor story.

The folks there believe he can reach his lofty mark.

“I think he can. He is a young man that believes in this. It may take him a little time. But one step at a time, I think he’s going to plow away at this and get the message out,” said Aileen Utterdyke, Pacific Historic Parks president and CEO.

Harrison’s knowledge of Pearl Harbor grows by the day.

School’s out but he’s still studying. And wherever he goes this summer, he’ll hand out information cards that invite people to pitch in so the Pearl Harbor story stays alive for generations to come.

“I want them to know the true stories of the survivors and those who did not survive,” he said.

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