More Than Family

Family.  In Hawaiian it is called ‘ohana.  It’s the same as the mainland but different…family, here, is not just blood. It goes much deeper.  Spend some time on the Hawaiian islands and you will come to know the true meaning.

When the bombs blew up and missiles exploded that quiet morning, the “day of infamy”, on December 7th, 1941 at Pearl Harbor – what caused such shock and stirred the hearts of Americans was that part of their family was killed.  Of the 1,400 naval officers and enlisted aboard the USS Arizona, 37 were sets of brothers.  The majority of those onboard were between the ages of 18 and 22 years old.  When almost 1,200 of them died instantly in the unprovoked attack, America did not simply mourn.  They truly grieved the loss of family.  The American public wanted to hug the mothers, offer a hand to the fathers, support the sons fighting in the military in any way that they could. This act of terrorism, an act that caused the United States to formally join World War II, united the country instantly.

Family means everything.  Perhaps living on a small island so far away from other civilization causes people to rely on each other a little more than other parts of the world.  Everyone wanted to come together and help on this little island in the Pacific.  While almost 40% of the 423,000 people living in Oahu in 1941 were of Japanese decent and more than 75% of these Japanese descendants were born American, everyone living in Hawaii wanted to protect their beautiful island and support the American war effort.  One day after the attacks, lines wrapped around Oahu’s military recruitment offices with men ready to join the Army, Navy, Coast Guard or the Marines.  More than 2,000 Native Hawaiians served in the United States Army during World War II.  In fact, many of these men were decorated with medals of valor for their heroic acts and bravery in Europe.

Remember Pearl Harbor.

-Meredith Novack

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