by Bill Doughty
Louise Borden's "Across the Blue Pacific: A World War II Story," illustrated by WWII-era Army-Air Force veteran and artist Robert Andrew Parker, is the story of how duty, sacrifice and loss can affect a nation, a neighborhood and a child. The effects can last a lifetime.
Borden's story is told with a child's innocence and is based on true events. It recounts the story of the author's uncle Theodore "Ted" Walker who graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1941, served aboard the light cruiser USS Memphis (CL-13) in the South Atlantic, and then served fatefully as executive officer in the submarine USS Albacore (SS-218), deployed from Midway to the western Pacific.
Ted Walker and his submarine crew never came home.
The National Park Service and Pacific Historic Parks -- partnering with the Department of Education, YMCA, and other groups -- are conducting a read aloud program for 135 schools across Hawaii to tell the story and ensure history is preserved and understood by all generations.
According to a press release from NPS and PHP:
"The story, 'Across the Blue Pacific: A World War II Story,' follows fourth grader Molly Crenshaw who is given a classroom assignment of writing a letter to servicemen overseas. Molly immediately knows who she will write to -- her next door neighbor Ted Walker, who is stationed aboard the USS Albacore. The story talks about the importance of appreciating the sacrifices made by the military.
As part of this year’s program, students will write letters to military personnel, which will then be delivered to active duty military through the U.S. Navy."
Pearl Harbor Survivor Delton "Wally" Walling shared his story at a Dec. 6 Read Aloud at Pauoa Elementary with 4th and 5th graders as NPS ranger Falynn Medeiros read and showed the book. Walling couldn't enlist in the Navy because of a disfigured finger so he had his finger surgically removed in order to join. He gave a firsthand account to students about the commitment, courage and consequences of the War in the Pacific.
The National Park Service has posted "several real life letters written during World War II by civilians and military personnel for parents to read to their children." For access and to learn more about the read aloud program go to www.nps.gov/valr/forkids.
"The National Park Service, with funding from Pacific Historic Parks, also offers a year-round distance learning program for students and teachers from around the world," according to an NPS release. "Witness To History is a free program that utilizes videoconferencing technology to take students where visitors cannot go, bringing the sites and stories of Pearl Harbor to children and adults unable to visit Oahu. The program includes a Pearl Harbor Survivor Series where participants can see and hear Pearl Harbor Survivors share their personal testimonies of what they experienced on that fateful day. The Interpretive Ranger Series shows a video of a USS Arizona underwater dive while a National Park Ranger provides a voice-over interpretive lesson. The program ends with a student and educator question-and-answer session. (For more information or to schedule a free Witness To History videoconference, contact 808-954-8744 or 808-4428.)"
131207-N-ZK021-017 - PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM (Dec. 7, 2013) - From the USS Arizona Memorial, symbol of the war's beginning on Dec. 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor Survivor Delton "Wally" Walling and Joan Bohl look out at the Battleship Missouri Memorial, symbol of the end of World War II in the Pacific. This year's historic commemoration, "Sound the Alarm," examines how thousands of Americans answered the call to duty in the wake of the attack. From Pearl Harbor and Midway the U.S. Navy moved across the Pacific until instruments of surrender were signed aboard USS Missouri (BB 63) Sept. 2, 1945. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nardel Gervacio/Released)