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The Merriest of Holiday Seasons to our Military Families Everywhere

This is our first Christmas as a retired family. And now that we live far from base, as the only military family around, I am struck by how profoundly I miss and appreciate our military brethren.

I miss, believe it or not, the unit Christmas parties where everyone would finally let down their guard, walk away from their desk and actually sit and relax, if for just a minute.

 I miss the tree lighting on base and the two-hour line for Santa that everyone whined about but refused to miss and the annoying bags of free junk my kids would collect from all the vendors who circled the event.

I miss bringing Christmas dinner to my husband on those rare years when he had to pull duty and bringing hot chocolate at midnight on Christmas Eve to the gate guards.

I miss knowing that when I wish someone Happy Holidays they know it is meant in love, not in sarcasm. Our military community is full of many different religions, all celebrating their own glorious holy days at this time of year.

A greeting of "Happy Holidays" is the sincerest way to wish every one of them peace and kindness.

Our new civilian community, however, mired in their selfish ignorance, sees a cheery greeting of 'Happy Holidays' as a strike to the heart against their own religion. They see diversity as weakness. They fear difference. They hate without cause.

This breaks my heart.

I am proud that my children had the opportunity to travel and to learn about other religions and cultures. My children love others for who they are. They are an anomaly in the town where we retired.

When a new neighbor came to our home and asked about  painting on the wall, which we had purchased in China, and another that we had purchased in Japan, as we tried to explain the difference, she told us "They were all the same anyways."

After a few minutes of her continuing on about how she didn't care much about other places because they didn't believe like she did, I quickly and politely moved the conversation out the door.

When she left, my children were aghast. They told me simply, "Mommy, she's not a very nice person."

No baby, she's not.

So, to our military brothers and sisters, I wish you the happiest of holiday seasons and wonderful, love-filled celebrations, for whatever you celebrate! It is a beautiful time of year and military families are beautiful people. Enjoy!

We're Better Than This

Right after Thanksgiving, the story broke.

Women officers were filmed in submarine showers without their consent, and the videos were distributed.  In Kings Bay, Ga.

We live there.  My husband is a submariner.  While that story didn’t personally affect my husband or the submarine he’s stationed on, it hit all too close to home.

Our community was, understandably, up in arms.  And, less understandably, at each other’s throats.

The message boards lit up.  Facebook statuses were ablaze.  People were all over the Internet and whispering behind hands.

It made it all the more upsetting.

A lot of people scoffed at it.  Fell back onto the support of the old boy’s club line, “Well, what did they expect?”

But some people went so far as to say “They had it coming,” or that “I’m not surprised.  Women shouldn’t have been there in the first place.”

Many conversations devolved into the ever-present fight about whether females should be serving on submarines at all. 

I found it all shameful.

The conversation shouldn’t have been about where women should or shouldn’t be.  The fact is, the women were there, serving their country, and fell prey to a sexual crime in their place of work.

No one ever asks for sexual harassment, which is why the rest of the surrounding conversation just sounded like victim-blaming to me.  And it broke my heart.

The Navy will punish the perpetrators how they see fit.  I can’t do anything but hope and pray they are punished strictly and used as an example to discourage others from committing such heinous acts against their shipmates.

But to see women dismissing what happened to others of their same gender – some going as far as to blame them – seemed traitorous.

No one deserves to be a victim of sexual violence.  Men are capable of honoring the civil rights of others; “boys will be boys” is never an excuse for the abuse of others.  The victims didn’t ask for this, and the thought that it was somehow inevitable is offensive.

These women are other peoples’ wives, daughters, sisters, and friends.  And their own community was too busy scoffing that it took this long for it to happen.

This tiny little Navy town we live in has so much good.  It’s filled with military families that sacrifice a lot.

But this national story tainted this place for me.  I can only imagine what others thought, especially those who don’t live here.

Shameful.  Shameful and sad.

So here’s to hoping the victims heal, and the community can put aside their disagreement over this to support them.
All of us are better than this.

Gift-giving and holiday merriment on base: Dos and Donts

Marna Ashburn remembers a Christmas party years ago where she and her soldier husband brought a bottle of wine.

And the hosts gave it right back to them.

They didn’t drink alcohol, Ashburn, author of “64 Easy Answers About Etiquette for the Modern Military Spouse,” said.

Christmas gift-giving can be stressful. Sometimes it can be double when you are choosing the right gift for a member of your husband’s military unit. With that in mind, it’s always a good idea to “consider your recipient’s tastes when you select a gift,” Ashburn said.

The holidays can be a stressful time, as most military spouses are be invited to a barrage of parties, gatherings and command events. There’s plenty of opportunities to give gifts, dress-up and have fun.  But the pressure can be confusing and overwhelming, too.

“It’s important to keep the spirit of etiquette in mind, which is simply to act with politeness and sensitivity towards others. This comes pretty naturally to most of us once we remind ourselves to make it a priority, especially during the holiday season,” she said.

Ashburn said you don’t have to give anyone in your spouses’ command a gift, but it is a nice time of year to show you appreciate them.  A nice note and a “small token” are a great start.

“This is a wonderful tradition, which I urge everyone to consider,” she said.

People love to be acknowledged and are often genuinely touched by the sentiment.

“What people crave most is to feel relevant, and you can accomplish this with a sincere and simple gesture,” she said.

Terri Barnes, an Air Force wife for almost 30 years and the editor of “Stories Around the Table: Laughter, Wisdom, and Strength in Military Life,” said the key to kind gift-giving is to know the people you and your spouse work with. 

“Etiquette isn’t about making ourselves feel good; it’s about making others feel good, said Barnes, author of “Spouse Calls: Messages from a Military Life” and the writer of a weekly column for Stars and Stripes with the same name.

Homemade treats are always a safe bet, Ashburn added.

She has a grab-bag of ideas she draws from everywhere, including a small bag of homemade fudge, small loaves of apple cake, layered cookie mixes in a mason jar, a stack of sugar cookies, shortbread and white and dark chocolate bark.

Tie it up with a pretty holiday ribbon, and it can make a very elegant gift, similar to something right out of a catalogue, but much more thoughtful and affordable because it’s homemade, Ashburn said.

You don’t have to bake, she added.  You can make cinnamon ornaments with Christmas cookie cutters, glitter paint and raffia.

“I’ve also planted amaryllis bulbs, available at the commissary, in pots right after Thanksgiving. By Christmas, they’re just about to bloom, and they make spectacular holiday gift for under 10 dollars,” she said.

Being practical is a wise choice when selecting gifts, too, Barnes said.

“Anyone can use an extra kitchen towel, a pot holder, a package of holiday disposable napkins and some biscotti,” she said.

You can never go wrong with some nice coffee or a small Starbucks gift card, she added.

Barnes always sends Christmas cards to her fellow military families and friends, including those in her husband’s chain of command.

“It’s the thought of the card that’s important, and it doesn’t add to their household,” she said.

Single service men and women often enjoy a little bag of treats, too, Barnes and Ashburn added.

“One unit got a local company to donate all the candy to do this. Or, buy some candy, or make cookies, portion it out, and wrap with party cellophane. Have fun with it,” Ashburn said.

Barnes said she makes sure that all single service members also have at least one invite for the holidays, so they don’t have to spend the holidays alone if they don’t want to.

“It’s all about the relationship,” Barnes added.

Whatever you do, keep it as simple as you can, Ashburn adds.

“Other years, I went crazy making handmade gifts, baked goods, and other Martha Stewart-esque endeavors and stressed myself out. I learned to scale back. Now I keep a file of easy tried-and-true ideas. It’s also a good idea through the year to maintain a “gift drawer” where you store items you come across which make perfect any-occasion presents,” she said.

You also can use those “gift drawer” items as back-ups in case you forget the office gift-exchange, for instance, she said.

Personally, Ashburn enjoys the sentiment and personal nature of an ornament.

“Ornaments, which relate to particular duty stations or units, are great because they are small, easily stored and moved, and each year when you unpack them, you also unwrap a cherished memory,” she added.

For work parties or Family Readiness Group gatherings, Ashburn sticks to a quality scented candle.

Some parties feature gift exchanges where you recycle old or funny gifts, often called “White Elephant” or “Green Santa” gift exchanges.

“It’s like a big yard sale where everybody brings their unwanted trash and leaves with new treasures,” Ashburn said.

She remembers one such party where someone wrapped up a foosball table, and the person who unwrapped it was thrilled.

Just don’t bring something “vulgar or in poor taste,” she said.

That and any gift that seems “ostentatious or expensive” are big no-nos when it comes to holiday gift-giving, she said.

When it comes to holiday behaviors, ostentatious behavior would also be inappropriate, too.

Drinking too much and discussing volatile and divisive issues, like politics and religion, aren’t a good idea, Ashburn said.


“Most units or commands have some sort of holiday get together, usually for families as well,” she said.

If you can attend, you should, Barnes said.

“I see so many young spouses so afraid to attend something because they don’t know the ground rules,” she said.

Barnes said that you should familiarize yourself with the basic etiquette before attending the party so you can have fun.  Knowing the rules is actually very “freeing,” Barnes said.

Some good rules of thumbs for all holiday parties are to always RSVP, see if you can bring an appetizer or something to share, and find out the dress code well in advance, Ashburn said.

“Remember ‘informal’ is considered a suit or dress. Casual usually means khakis or nice trousers but not jeans,” she said.

If it’s a private party or at a private residence, you should bring a small hostess gift and write a handwritten thank-you note after the fact.

Throwing your own party isn’t always necessary, either.

“December is a busy time for everyone with shopping, shipping, school programs, decorating, baking, and the like.  Adding another event to the calendar might be ill-advised,” Ashburn said.

She suggests waiting till the following months and doing a Super Bowl or Valentine’s Day party.

However, if you do have a party, she said you need to send out very early invitations and, like gift-giving, keep it simple.

“We don’t want people feeling excluded, especially during the holidays, so pick your parameters,” so, for instance, just invite everyone in your spouses’ unit or just the FRG, she said.

“It doesn’t have to be a white-glove event,” Barnes said.

One of Barnes’ favorite command Christmas parties took place when she and her husband, a chaplain, were stationed overseas.  They had a simple party with Christmas cookies in the chapel, and then the entire party went into the barracks and dorms and sang Christmas carols.

“It was something very special. My kids remember it, and they were little at the time,” she said.

Vacation, in the Nick of Time!

We are preparing for our first real family vacation, a trip that is not traveling for a holiday to see family for once. And boy, it couldn’t come at a better time.

We just got word that my husband will be going to a four-month school in Virginia, about five hours away, starting shortly after the New Year. Some much needed family time away is exactly what we need!

A year ago, the thought of four months solo with my kids would have sent me into a 2-year-old style tantrum. Today, however, I am in the middle of not really having any emotion and being totally okay with it.

For one, plans are always changing. Next week my husband could be headed to a different country. You really never know!! So, as a seasoned military wife now, I have learned to just go with it and deal with it when he is driving or flying away.

The other part of me that is okay with it feels that way because what other choice do I have? I know my husband doesn’t want to go away, but he doesn’t have a choice if he wants to stay competitive with his peers. In order to move up and be promoted (and continue to provide for our family) he has to have certain things checked off his career list.

I could be mad and aggravated but that won’t get me anywhere except make our life miserable. And, we need his job and for him to do well to provide some type of security. So, we do what we always do, we will roll with it!

Not quite sure how we will manage but we will! We always do!

The future after this school is unknown, so its ironic that knowing my husband will be away for a few months is the only certainty that we have for now. I do not want to think about PCSing yet or a deployment so I will take this news as a blessing and make the best of it.

We will be able to travel to see him if the going gets rough and that is hardly ever a possibility in this lifestyle. Until then, we will soak in our family time and continue the way we always do - one day at a time.

Job References 101

Like it or not, obtaining excellent references are an essential part of your job search.

"In addition to your own ability to sell your skills and qualifications you also need qualified people who are willing to support your candidacy," said Marcia Robinson, a senior professional in human resources.

Potential employers generally contact references after the job interview because they think you are the right person for the job and want to confirm your skill set, work ethic and character, among other things. Not having a list of references or just throwing them together at the last minute can cost you the job.

"A few months ago, I received a call from a potential employer about someone who had listed me as a reference and I had no idea who the person was," said Christina Overstreet, Transition Services Manager in Vicenza, Italy. "Later, I researched her and learned she had volunteered once for the organization I worked for, years prior. I didn't let on that I had no idea who the person was, but said I wasn't able to provide a reference because I hadn't had enough opportunities to interact with her. The employer was speechless.”

According to a 2012 survey 69 percent of the respondents have changed their minds about a candidate after speaking with a reference. Of those, 47 percent had a less favorable opinion about the candidate while 23 percent had a more favorable one.

Don't be the job candidate with a less favorable outcome.

“Never list a reference without checking with that person first and don't list anyone you are not 100 percent sure will give you a fantastic reference,” Overstreet said.

The advantages to asking a potential reference to pass their name on with your resume: your references won't be caught off guard when the employer calls; you will have the references' preferred and accurate contact information to pass along; and the person will have a chance to decline before the employer calls.  

The survey stated that 62 percent of the employers who contacted a reference said the reference didn't have anything good to say about the candidate. So you must also be very selective of who your references are.

“Many people make the mistake of thinking they can only ask people who were senior to them at work, but it’s ok to ask mentors, colleagues, peers and professors, as long as they can provide objective facts and personal reflections about you as relates to the job,” Robinson said.

Also, don't get hung up on how long ago is too long to have worked with someone for them to be a reference.

“If the relationship is current and you are discussing transferable skills and behaviors, I don't think it matters,” Robinson said. “Just make sure the examples they provide are current.”

There's no need to worry about having local references either. Use people with whom you had or have a great rapport. Genuine interest and enthusiasm can go a long way with an employer who is looking for confirmation of his or her choice.

Finally, prepare your references so they are able to sing your praises. Meet with them or use email to provide a copy of your resume and point out a few key points for discussion. Knowing what jobs you are applying for and specific examples of how you think you meet or exceed the qualifications will help them provide relevant and excellent feedback to your next employer.

Shop Local, Buy From Military Spouses

This holiday season, shop local.

And by that, I mean support military spouse small business owners. The best part is, that makes the entire world local.

Start by visiting your local installation. Many have craft shops where spouses and military members have handmade artwork for sale. Often there are military spouse-run gift shops too that carry both local treats and military-themed gifts.

The spouse-operated shop at NAS Pearl Harbor, for example, has fantastic finds for much lower prices than in downtown Honolulu. It was, in fact, one of my favorite places to shop while we were stationed there.  Most of these shops also use part of their profits to fund programs for military families on base. It's a win, win!

Next stop, the internet.

Most military spouses carry their home-grown businesses with them when they PCS which means consumers can buy from them anywhere in the world.

A great place to start is the Red, White & Blue Pages, run by the Military Spouse Business Association. You can search by location or business category and you will find everything from realtors to fashion accessories - all made, sold and managed by military spouses.

Find the page at

A Facebook search of military spouse unveils hundreds of pages that spouses have dedicated to their businesses. One of our favorites is Shop Military Spouse Made, a page that culls the information of military spouse crafters and make shopping easy. This group also has a website with a full directory:

At you will also find thousands of military spouses and their handmade goods. This search takes a little more time, however. Type "military spouse" in the search bar and it will bring up vendors, items, everything military spouse related. If you click on the individual vendor to learn more about them, many of the military-themed items are handcrafted by military spouses.

I just ordered an awesome, handmade yard sign from a Marine Corps spouse in California who I discovered on Etsy. Doing business with her was a breeze. We chatted via email like we knew each other for years.

That is the joy of checking off your holiday to do list by shopping at spouse-run businesses. They know you. They have experienced the same hardships. They  have experienced the same joys. And when you walk into their business you already have a friend.

Shop local this holiday. Support your fellow military spouses!

EFMP Families, Need a List of Services Available in All 50 States? Check Here First!

By Tiffany Shedd

My family has recently reached several milestones. It has been over a year since my son has had a seizure. And soon after, he turned two and began transitioning into a toddler. With both of these has come a lot of changes in our day to day routines.

We weaned him off one of his two medications. We are starting to discuss coming off the last medication as well. And as any parent of a toddler will tell you, this transition can be drastic.

Your sweet baby is starting to develop some definite opinions and tastes, but may not be able to express them quite yet. With my son that means a lot of, “uh uh” noises and falling on the floor in tantrums of despair when we don’t immediately figure out what he wants.

Just like our family, the Exceptional Family Member Program has recently gone through some transitions, to include an update to the Education Directory for Children with Special Needs. If you’re unfamiliar with this program it provides information about services and tools available for children all around the country.

As part of the upgrades, the program was divided into two sections: Early Intervention (birth to 3 years old) and School Age Children (3-21). With the division, it makes it easier for parents for children in both age groups to find services best suited for their child and their needs.

The Early Intervention (EI) Services directory breaks down resources by state. Each state’s page will give you information about providers, potential costs and even information about parental training. My family has made great use of the Early Intervention services in Maryland. My son took part in testing with our county's Infants and Toddlers program to make sure that his hearing was not an issue. He was also tested to see if his speech development was delayed or not. Thankfully, his epilepsy hasn’t caused any delays in his development. But for families where this is not the case, you will be able to find out what services are available in your area. Even if your child isn’t eligible for services through the early intervention program, they will be able to point you toward resources that will help your child.

For older children, the School Age Program will be more useful for you. It is broken down by state, just like the EI program, but the focus is on school districts and programs that are more educationally oriented. This includes Educational Definitions of Disabilities, which can differ from state to state, information about their specific service support structures, secondary transitions, and much of the same basic information provided in the EI program.

Moving from state to state as a military family is already a daunting task, but when you have to figure out how to get your child the services that they need and are entitled to it adds even more stress. Having access to the Educational Directory for Children with Special Needs can take some of that stress away by putting all the information you need at your fingertips. It’s available online and you can also download it as a PDF to any of your devices. My husband has already started prepping me for the possibility of a move in the next year, so I know that I will be bookmarking their site myself.

Websites We Love: Official NORAD Santa Tracker

While many military members are on a limited holiday schedule, the folks at NORAD are hard at work, tracking Santa and his eight tiny reindeer.

The tradition began more than 50 years ago when a newspaper advertisement for Sears Roebuck & Co. in Colorado misprinted the telephone number for children to call Santa. The tots dialed the phone expecting the jolly old elf to answer and instead, they reached the CONAD Commander-in-chief’s operations line.

When the staff began receiving calls from children looking for Santa, they played along and began checking the radar to track Santa’s travels so children would know if he was on his way, and that he was safe.

Children can still call in on Christmas Eve to get an update from NORAD’s staff. They can also see Santa in real-time at the website and play games. The site opens a new game every day to count down to Christmas.

And most importantly for parents, on Christmas Eve when your excited kiddos are itching to stay awake, you can show them exactly how close Santa is to arriving. And everyone knows if you’re not snug in bed and asleep when he arrives, Santa won’t stop.

Log in on Christmas Eve and track Santa! Excitement for the kids and everyone in bed on time, without a fight, for you! 

When You PCS, What Did You Leave Behind?

These past few months I’ve been investing quite a bit in a local non-profit I work for.

Lots of time. Lots of effort. Lots of printer ink and paper.

I am so proud of how large and successful we have become and how many families we have helped affect.

I feel we make an important the difference.

But then, I lay in bed, tired after teaching a community class or working a table at a community event, and I realize that all this work and growth and sacrifice I’ve made won’t matter in just two years.

Because, we will move. The Navy will have another life and base and community for us, and this small town and non-profit will be another piece of my past.

And that’s it.

A proud piece of it, maybe. 

But I won’t see what happens to this organization. I won’t see if it will keep going, grow more, fall or fly.  I won’t see if anyone remembers me. If they miss me. If they miss my impact.

In fact, because we live in such a military town, I’m not sure the current families we work with will even be here to remember my presence in the non-profit either.

While there is something to be said about the benefits of not putting down permanent roots in a town I have no particular attachment to, it is sad that I don’t get to see the mark I made in years to come.

And, it’s interesting. Long-standing institutions here – churches, recreation centers, city council – have high turnover. Non-profits are led by and serve entirely new populations from one year to the next.

It’s hard not to get discouraged and wonder why I’m up two hours too late in the evening working on non-profit tax paperwork, exhausted, when I’m not sure I’ll even make a long-term difference.

And yet, I keep going. Two-and-a-half years into it, I’m still going.


Because no matter what, I care. I care about this community, temporary home though it may be. I care about my neighbors and fellow mothers and babies and kids. I care that others reach their goals, and I care that this non-profit remain financially solvent, despite being totally run on donations.

My husband’s job in the Navy will always keep us moving, but that doesn’t mean I stop having interests or beliefs. And the extroverted helper inside of me always wants to come out.

So I keep going.

After all, just because I’m a Navy wife, doesn’t mean I don’t care.


Save One Bullet for Yourself and One for the Dog

Military Spouse Pens Book Detailing the Horrors of Pearl Harbor Day, as experienced by the military families who lived there that day.

When Japanese fighter planes flew over his Ford Island, Hawaii, home on Dec. 7, 1941, en route to bomb Pearl Harbor, one little boy was in the backyard tending to his rabbits. He ran inside to tell his mother.

Upon hearing the news, his mother, a military spouse, calmly took a shower and then dressed her children in their Sunday best. She refused, family said, to be captured looking disheveled. 

Upon hearing that story, more than 70 years later, present-day military spouse Katrina Luksovsky refused to let the story, and dozens more about the experiences of military families who lived on what is now known as Nob Hill during the attack be lost to time.

"I had never thought about the war in those kinds of terms, that they prepared for the worst," she said. "I already know what happened at the end of the war."

And now, she knows a lot more about what happened at the beginning, specifically on Pearl Harbor Day when Japanese naval and air forces attacked Hawaii. The surprise strike had an enormous death toll: 2,008 U.S. Navy personnel, 218 U.S. Army soldiers, 109 U.S. Marines and 68 civilians.

When Luksovsky moved into Navy Housing on Ford Island, inside Pearl Harbor, she was curious about the lives of the families who lived there during the attack. Her initial plan was to place permanent placards outside each home in the historic housing district to recognize each family who lived there on Dec. 7, 1941.

Her efforts have mounted to so much more, including a reunion of the children who survived the attack and a book. To find each family, Luksovsky said she became a sort of sleuth/stalker who spent her evenings each day searching online for any clue that would lead her to a family member.

She slowly began finding nieces, nephews and grandchildren who were happy and excited to share the stories that had been passed down through generations - and to learn more about their own families.

The now 70-year-old granddaughter of a Navy doctor said he was out playing golf when the attacks began. After the first wave he returned to Ford Island and immediately went to work. But first, he gave his wife a gun and sent her to a basement holding area. His instructions were clear: if the Japanese came in, she was to shoot the dog first and then shoot herself.

After exchanging stories and months of email with Luksovsky, the granddaughter came to Hawaii for her 70th birthday.

That day Luksovsky and many of her neighbors hosted the Navy doctor's granddaughter. They gave her a tour of the neighborhood and the basement that her grandmother hid in during the attacks. The woman said her grandmother often referred to it as "a dungeon."

In actuality, Luksovsky said, the "dungeon" was a basement storage area in the admiral's house where more than 200 women and children gathered for protection that day.

"She felt better knowing that she was with other people from the neighborhood," she said. "It put a lot of things into perspective for her."

When the ladies brought her to the dispensary where her grandfather worked tirelessly on Dec. 7 as wounded troops were brought in an endless stream, his granddaughter became teary. She realized she was standing where her grandfather had saved lives on one of the worst days in American history.

"It was such a meaningful day for her to go back and trace things that her grandparents did," Luksovsky said.

With each phone call, Luksovsky was treated to another goose-bump inducing story. Grandchildren told stories their parents told them of taking cover that day in the "dungeon." Sailors who were blown off of ships made their way there too. Some lived, more died.

Many of the stories include tales of military children tending to the injured who were covered in oil and had their clothes burned off of them. The men asked the children to hold their cigarettes to their mouths when their injuries would not allow them to do this simple tasks.

Dozens of men took their last breath with only these children by their side.

The children saw the dead Japanese pilots on the shores. They helped Marines load bullets into their gun belts. Mothers made pacts with each other to kill themselves if the Japanese overran the island.

Most of the children fell asleep that night not knowing whether their fathers were dead or alive.

"These were things no one could imagine these children enduring," Luksovsky said. "These are the stories you never hear about."

The children who were there that day, now old and gray, told her how the smell of burning flesh and oil remains fresh in their nostrils; how they still can't watch a fireworks show.

"Many people don't realize how close these houses were to where the action was," she said.

Story after story, Luksovsky found the military families of Pearl Harbor Day. She eventually tracked down all 19 families who lived in the 20 historic homes in Nob Hill on Ford Island. One house was vacant that day.

Luksovsky's enthusiasm and tenacity led to another first. She held a reunion last year on the east coast and 12 of the 16 children who survived that day, and are still living, were able to attend. For many, it was the first time they had seen each other in 70 years. For their own children, it was the first time many had heard the survivors speak of their experience.

Luksovsky knew she couldn't let the stories slip away again. With the blessing of the families, she compiled all the stories into a book called simply, "Ford Island, December 7, 1941."

The book is still in editing and will be available soon. Luksovsky was worried her endeavor wouldn't have much interest among the general population. But when she put it on to try to raise funds for the initial printing, supporters donated $2,800. Her goal was $2,000.

She said she is excited to not just get the stories out, but to preserve them.

"The survivors' children asked me to write it," she said. "I am honored they asked me. I want to make sure these stories never get lost."



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