CEO Joe Shoen and Family Thank Veterans at U-Haul-Sponsored Opening Gala and Tribute Dinner Leading Up to Dec. 7
HONOLULU, Hawaii — American treasure Jim Nabors cleared his 86-year-old pipes and belted out “God Bless America” with the vigor of a teenager. Actor Gary Sinise spoke words of inspiration and directed his Lt. Dan Band in a free concert on Waikiki Beach. Garth Brooks and wife Trisha Yearwood graciously posed for hundreds of photos with admirers.
These were a few highlights from the events surrounding the 75th commemoration of the Pearl Harbor Day anniversary. But the aforementioned celebrities, despite their status, were merely fans themselves this week. The real stars in Oahu were the World War II veterans and Pearl Harbor survivors.
Watch Joe Shoen’s video to Pearl Harbor and WWII veterans: uhaul.com/about/veterans.
U-Haul International, Inc. honored and remembered our veterans with its sponsorship of the 75th commemoration of the Japanese attack on Oahu. The pinnacle of the week’s events occurred the morning of Dec. 7 with the official ceremony. U-Haul was the Presenting Veterans Sponsor of the Opening Gala and its commitment assisted in getting veterans and their families to Pearl Harbor.
AMERCO Chairman and CEO Edward J. “Joe” Shoen and his family were in attendance for the events, including the “For Love of Country – Pass It On” gala on Dec. 3 and the “December 7th Remembered” tribute dinner on Dec. 6.
The gala, which serves as a fundraiser for the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, was held inside historic Hanger 79. WWII-era aircraft and a silent-auction tent greeted guests upon arrival at the base. A flashback to the 1940s awaited inside with war-ravaged fighter planes and mementos lining the borders and ceiling of the decked-out hanger.
Sinise gave the primary address and shared the story of a Pearl Harbor Medal of Honor recipient. Linda Hope, eldest daughter of Bob Hope, spoke of her father and the veterans he loved. And Nabors, a.k.a. Gomer Pyle, surprised with a stirring rendition of “God Bless America” late in the evening.
“What began here at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 thankfully, because of your determination and courage, ended in victory in August of 1945,” Sinise said. “The entire world owes you a great debt of gratitude as freedom was preserved for all of us.
“To say ‘thank you’ seems inadequate. But if we can all continue to work to make the most of this glorious blessing of freedom that you provided for all of these many years ago, to live good lives and to give something back to the country you sacrificed so much for, perhaps that can be our way of showing our gratitude for all you have done – and for what our active-duty service members today continue to do to keep us free.”
The “December 7th Remembered” formal dinner at the Hilton Waikiki Village was itself a night to remember. WWII veterans graced the American flag-themed banquet room alongside some of today’s highest ranking military officers, Hawaii Governor David Ige, Brooks and Yearwood, and a large honor band.
Musical pieces, historical film segments and inspiring high school vignette speakers interlaced addresses from Adm. Harry Harris, Jr., U.S. Navy Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, and the man he introduced, Adm. John Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations.
The admirals took turns paying their respects to the veterans in attendance and those who gave their lives. Harris prompted a standing ovation when he adamantly shared that no one from “The Boys of ’41” would ever take a knee during the National Anthem – a clear stab at the handful of professional athletes doing so today.
“I’m extremely proud of our Navy team today,” Richardson said. “You know, this millennial generation sometimes gets some bad press. But I’ll tell you, not from me. Our young sailors, soldiers, airmen and marines are the most talented and qualified ever seen. Even after 15 years of continuous war, they continue to raise their right hand and take that same oath to support and defend our constitution.
“Veterans from WWII, both those who gave their lives for our country and survivors here today, they are our model of what it means to serve. You demonstrated humility and toughness. You demonstrated what it means to take an oath and live by it.”
Do you have a message for our WWII veterans or thoughts on U-Haul Company’s efforts to honor them at the 75th commemoration of Pearl Harbor? Please let us know in the comments box below.