Categorized | Education, Featured

Thousands of isle students join Read Aloud Dec. 7 event

Hakunani Anakalea, group leader at the A+ program at Holualoa Elementary School, reads “Pearl Harbor Warriors: The Bugler, The Pilot, The Friendship.”  (Photo courtesy of Fern Gavelek Communications)

Hakunani Anakalea, group leader at the A+ program at Holualoa Elementary School, reads “Pearl Harbor Warriors: The Bugler, The Pilot, The Friendship.” (Photo courtesy of Fern Gavelek Communications)

MEDIA RELEASE

Every Dec. 7, thousands of people from around the world gather at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center in Honolulu to pay tribute to the thousands of military service members and civilians who lost their lives in the name of freedom in 1941.

For the few surviving Pearl Harbor survivors who are able to make the trek to this sacred place, their message to future generations is clear: Remember Pearl Harbor, the tremendous sacrifice that was made that day, and the terrible consequences of war.

For the first time ever, the National Park Service and Pacific Historic Parks shared the historical significance of that day with 6,000-plus school-age children across Hawaii with a simultaneous reading aloud program at 3 p.m. Dec. 7.

Through the Department of Education’s and the Island of Hawaii YMCA’s A+ Afterschool Care Programs, Big Island students at 11 schools joined their peers from across the state in learning about the real life story of an unlikely friendship between the late Pearl Harbor Survivor Richard Fiske and Japanese Fighter Pilot Zenji Abe.

Participating Hawaii Island schools included De Silva Elementary, Keaukaha Elementary, St. Joseph School, Keaau Elementary, Honokaa Elementary, Waimea Elementary, Kohala Elementary, Kealakehe Elementary, Holualoa Elementary, Kamehameha Schools and the YMCA’s Club Y Teens program.

Richard Fiske and Zenji Abe (Photo courtesy of Maureen Monte)

Richard Fiske and Zenji Abe (Photo courtesy of Maureen Monte)

The children’s book, entitled “Pearl Harbor Warriors: The Bugler, The Pilot, The Friendship,” is a story of peace and forgiveness and how these men, who were once enemies of war, overcame their hatred and fear for one another.

“As stewards of the USS Arizona Memorial and World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, the National Park Service’s mission is to preserve and share the history of the Pacific War, including what took place at Pearl Harbor 71 years ago,” National Park Service Superintendent Paul DePrey said.

“Sharing the message of peace and reconciliation amongst thousands of young children across Hawaii is significant,” he said. “The story of Richard Fiske and Zenji Abe is proof that through friendship and peace, we can make this a better world for future generations.”

Pacific Historic Parks purchased 175 copies of the book to provide to each participating school. Pacific Historic Parks, a cooperating association that assists the National Park Service, supports the education, preservation, development and interpretation of four National Park-managed historic sites throughout the Pacific, including Pearl Harbor.

A marine bugler on the USS West Virginia, Fiske witnessed the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the massive destruction that happened at the hands of Japanese fighter pilots.

For many years, his heart was filled with anger and hatred for the Japanese and his health suffered because of this. Hospitalized due to the stress of his anger, he knew he had to forgive the Japanese for what they had done in the name of war or face imminent death due to his failing health.

In 1991, during the 50th Anniversary Pearl Harbor Symposium, Japanese Fighter Pilot Zenji Abe offered an apology for the attack to members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors and extended his hand in friendship.

Fiske accepted his apology and the two became friends. As a symbol of peace and friendship, Abe gave Fiske $300 and asked him to lay two roses at the Arizona Memorial each month, one for him and one for Fiske.

He also asked Fiske to play the taps on his bugle after he did this.

Fiske honored this request every month until he passed away in 2004.

“Pearl Harbor Warriors: The Bugler, The Pilot, The Friendship” is a children’s book written by Pearl Harbor civilian survivor and author Dorinda Nicholson. The book, which has won numerous national awards including the International Reading Association’s Children’s and Young Adult’s Book Award, is written as a correspondence between the author and her granddaughter, recounting the story of two World War II veterans — an American Marine and a Japanese pilot — whose lives intersected in war at Pearl Harbor and again in reconciliation 50 years later.

“It’s a very inspirational book and the second time I read it, I cried,” said Hakunani Anakalea, group leader at the A+ program at Holualoa Elementary School. “The book makes the emotions of the characters come alive and illustrates the importance of forgiveness.”

Fifth grade student Anuhea Kainoa-Cho shared that the book had a good story and added, “I learned about protecting others and why people should make up when they disagree.”

“Pearl Harbor Warriors: The Bugler, The Pilot, The Friendship” may be purchased at www.pacifichistoricparksbookst…

As part of its reading aloud program, the National Park Service has posted several other real life stories of Pearl Harbor survivors on its website for parents to read to their children. Visit www.nps.gov/valr/forkids

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