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Sun, beach, and the beautiful ocean all spread before me. I was on my way to Hawaii with my mom and the Spirit of Arkansas Honor Band. Simply looking out the window and seeing the amazing blue, sparkling water below made me realize that I was now entering paradise. But not only did I learn a lot about the awesome country that I live in and the world around me, but about myself, too.
The sights and smells getting off the coach buses that drove us from the airport to the hotel was enough to stop you dead in your tracks. Everything around you was buzzing with commotion. I’m from a small town in central Arkansas, and to see so many people at one place was insane! But it wasn’t that rushed atmosphere you would expect; but more of a laid back happy one. This feeling would come to be one of the most memorable things about my trip to Hawaii. That “aloha” spirit was in the air mixed with the beautiful smell of flowers that wafted throughout the entire state.
The reason we had come was not just to enjoy ourselves on the divine island of Oahu, but we actually had the opportunity to play my flute at Pearl Harbor. W played The National Anthem and many other patriotic songs. Just thinking about this experience makes me tear up. To think of all those who had died there for me and you; all the blood shed so that we as a band could have the opportunity to be standing on such hallowed land as the USS Arizona memorial watching the oil continue to leak from the ruins today. We where able to walk on the USS Missouri and even have a tour of the inside. These men and women gave their lives so that we might be free. So that I could travel to Hawaii and enjoy such beautiful scenery and just have fun.
This was a very humbling experience for me personally and it taught me so much. It made me stop and appreciate where I was and how I was even able to be there. As I thought about my grandfather who not only served, but was severely wounded in the US Navy on the USN Fox during WWII, my eyes began to fill with tears. He had stood where I was standing but under such different circumstances. He feared for his life and the lives of those around him while I celebrated life. I grew so much as a person due to this experience and I hope to take my children there someday to have this life altering experience as I had this summer in Hawaii. Mahalo for everyone who made my time there so memorable, but especially Mahalo to all those hard working men and women who died so that I could have even had the opportunity to go to Hawaii. You will never be forgotten. Aloha!