Written by: LTC (Ret.) Michael DeBolt
Out of the Classroom and Into History
OAHU, HI — Omaha Public Schools JROTC participated in the 3rd Annual Vietnam Veterans Day Parade in Oahu, Hawaii on March 29. This day has been designated the official national observance of the Vietnam War as we reflect with solemn reverence upon the valor of a generation that served with honor. We pay tribute to the more than 3 million servicemen and women who left their families to serve. Hawaii was where many embarked to Vietnam or returned to before going home.
We visited many historical sites of Hawaii on the island of Oahu. We learned of the Punchbowl National Cemetery and the connection to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency in Omaha and the identification of our fallen. We visited Pearl Harbor where over 2,400 lost their lives and the Arizona Memorial where 900 crewman souls remain under water and USS Missouri where the WWII surrender took place under Admiral Nimitz and General Douglas MacArthur. The USS Missouri would serve in Korea and the Gulf War or a total of 51 years.
We toured the Polynesian Cultural Center and visited the Māori Village of New Zealand; Tongan Village; Samoan Village; Tahitian Village; and Hawaiian Village. We visited the Dole Pineapple Plantation, with many enjoying fresh pineapple or frozen pineapple ice cream. Enjoyed a traditional luau and the show, Ha The Breath of Life. The students also enjoyed the beaches of Waikiki, some leaning to wakeboard, snorkel and one learning to scuba dive.
Thirty-one cadets enjoyed the 6-day trip from March 27 to April 1st. The cost of trip was $106,055: 57% paid by outside funds (Omaha Schools Foundation Grant/fundraisers/donations) and 43% by students.
Omaha Public Schools has now marched in the 70th Anniversary D-Day (Normandy France), 75th Commemoration Pearl Harbor (Hawaii), 75th Anniversary D-Day (Normandy France), and now Vietnam Veterans Day Parade (Hawaii).
The Vietnam parade is new based on Presidential proclamation (2017) that established Vietnam Veterans Day on March 29th. A parade to honor the veterans took a moment to be established – Hawaii was designated the official national parade.
Out of the Classroom and Into History – it is our programs intent to immerse the students into another culture and another era. By bringing in guest speakers from Vietnam, Pearl Harbor, WWII, Holocaust survivors, and speakers from the local region. It brings history alive with oral stories from those who lived through it. By going there, standing on the soil you are forever changed by the visual history of a time reimagined.
Image Gallery (Photo credit: LTC (Ret.) Michael DeBolt