The Spirt of Liberty Foundation successfully completed its visit to Hawaii for the 76th Pearl Harbor Remembrance Ceremonies. We also brought, for the second year in a row, the oldest living Pearl Harbor Attack survivor Ray Chavez, 105 years old to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii for the ceremonies.
The visit kicked off with the Opening Bell Ringing Ceremony of America’s Freedom Bell on December 6 at the USS Bowfin Museum and Park. The ceremony’s guests included Congressional and mayoral Representatives from Hawaii and Admiral William Greene of the Navy’s Pacific Fleet. The guest of honor was 96 year old Pearl Harbor Attack survivor and US Navy Veteran Delton Walling who officially closed the ceremony by being the first person to ring The Freedom Bell.
Mr. Walling also shared moving remarks about his first hand experience during the attack on December 7, 1941 and the strength and resolve his unit showed during and after they attack. He said the only thing we could think about was just doing our job.”
After the ceremony, hundreds of attendees lined up to ring the Freedom Bell on behalf of a family member or a friend who served or is serving in our Armed Forces.
The Spirit of Liberty Foundation’s America’s Santa stood beside the Freedom Bell where attendees took the opportunity to take pictures with him. America’s Santa wore his special Official Army camouflage uniform with white fur—which was a hit with the crowds and broadened many smiles.
America’s Santa has visited American troops in military hospitals Worldwide in Iraq, Afghanistan, US military bases in Europe and even Guantanamo Bay.
On the following day, December 7—the Spirit of Liberty Foundation opened up America’s Freedom Bell for visitors to ring. We expected several hundred people to ring the Freedom Bell, but boy—were we surprised!
Over 1,000 visitors rung the Freedom Bell throughout the day as they shared moving stories about those they rung the Freedom Bell on behalf of.
We ended the day by participating at the Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade, where tens of thousands of spectators gathered alongside the main road in Waikiki—Kalakaua Avenue—to view the floats.
The Spirit of Liberty Foundation’s Float lead the parade, carrying a waving America’s Santa who extracted loud cheers as he passed by.
We wound up our trip with a bang! First, we kicked off the day with a meeting at the Hawaii State Capitol with Governor David Ige of Hawaii.
In the meting, the Foundation’s Chairman Richard Rovsek and America’s Santa briefed Governor Ige on the Foundation’s mission to help veterans and their families. They also presented the first edition copy of “The Night Before Christmas”, 1823, to the Governor.
After the Governor’s meeting we visited Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu with Ray Chavez, the oldest living Pearl Harbor Attack Survivor and America’s Santa for a Christmas luncheon. Both were well received by the troops—they couldn’t get enough of both of them and often came back to take more pictures and share more stories.
America’s Santa along with Chairman of the Foundation Richard Rovsek also visited the pediatric center at Tripler—where America’s Santa read from the first edition copy of “The Night Before Christmas” to the patients.
We want to thank American Airlines for being the Official Carrier of America’s Freedom Bell. American Airlines proudly carried America’s Freedom Bell from Arlington National cemetery to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii for the Ceremonies.
Additionally, Hawaiian Airlines supported all travel for the Foundation’s entire staff. We also thank The Kahala Hotel & Resort and Firestone for being invaluable supporters for the foundation as well.
This year we also send Special Christmas Ornaments to all veterans living in VA homes. The ornaments have the five Official seals of the Armed Forces.
Thank you for all the support we have received from you. We look forward with anxious anticipation to 2018 when we will expand the Spirit of Liberty Foundation’s programs and services.
We wish you a Happy Holidays and a very Christmas and we’d love to hear from you as the year ends.
Lastly, as the year ends please consider making a contribution to Spirit of Liberty Foundation Federal Tax ID 13-3586119.