Every Dec. 7, thousands pay tribute to the troops and civilians who lost their lives in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. This year, the National Park Service and Pacific Historic Parks shared the historical significance of the date with thousands of school-age children across Hawaii through a simultaneous reading-aloud program.
Children enrolled in Maui Family YMCA's A-Plus program at Pomaikai, Lihikai, Haiku and Kihei elementary schools heard the real-life story of the unlikely friendship between the late Pearl Harbor survivor Richard Fiske and a onetime Japanese fighter pilot, Zenji Abe, described in the book "Pearl Harbor Warriors: The Bugler, The Pilot, The Friendship." It is a story of peace and forgiveness and how these men, who were once enemies in wartime, later overcame their animosity.
In the years before his death in 2004, Fiske was a volunteer at the Arizona Memorial. In 1991, as a symbol of peace and friendship, Abe gave Fiske $300 and asked him to lay two roses at the memorial each month, one for him and one for Fiske, and to play taps on his bugle afterward. Fiske honored this request every month until he died.
Jalen Polanco of the Maui Family YMCA A-Plus program reads a story about an unlikely friendship to a group of students at Kihei Elementary School.
"This was great opportunity for our youth to hear about this historical event and how these memories still touch our lives today," said Jason Justus, Maui Family YMCA Senior Program director. "Through this book, our students also gained a better understanding of how enemies can become friends and share a common goal to bringing peace to future generations."
"I thought it was sad that so many died in that war, but the story was pretty special," said Pomaikai Elementary student Keila Harris. "Sometimes people don't get along, but a couple years later they are best friends."
"Pearl Harbor Warriors: The Bugler, The Pilot, The Friendship" is a children's book written by Pearl Harbor civilian survivor and author Dorinda Nicholson.