Piece of the USS Arizona comes to New Hampton Middle School

Instructor, students putting together display case

The one moment that Jason Rude will never forget when it comes to the saga of bringing a piece of the USS Arizona to New Hampton Middle School. And it’s why the social studies instructor believes so passionately in personal history.

There he was, standing in his home, pulling out a piece of the superstructure of the battleship that more than anything is how we remember that fateful December 1941 day when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and brought the United States into World War II.

And there was his grandfather, Howard Bernatz — a 93-year-old World War II veteran from Decorah whose distant cousin, Karl Giesen, died on Dec. 7 — in the same room as a the piece of Arizona.

“He said something like, ‘My gosh, you go all over the place, and here I am touching the Arizona.’ You could tell what it meant to him,” Rude said, “and to me, to watch him react to that piece, that was just so powerful. … That’s what you want history to be. It’s not dates and times and all that; it’s people.”

And one day relatively soon, Rude and his eighth-grade students will unveil that piece of a ship that in so many ways changed America forever.

— For more on this story, see the Oct. 27 Tribune

New Hampton Tribune

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