A Visit of Remembrance

7th February 2024

Chelsea Pensioners in scarlet uniforms saluting
At the end of last year, Chelsea Pensioners John and Angus embarked on a trip to Hawaii and the United States of America as a visit of Remembrance. Throughout their visit, the pair visited various landmarks and were invited to lay a wreath at different memorial sites, commemorating the American Armed Forces. 

Since returning to the Royal Hospital, we caught up with them to find out how their visit went. 

Touchdown in Honolulu

Departing the Royal Hospital in December for their two-week trip, John and Angus touched down in Honolulu, Hawaii to start. Despite a flight delay, both John and Angus were welcomed by the Airport Police Commissioner and escorted to their hotel ready for the next day of visits. 

The first stop on the itinerary was The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, also known informally as the ‘Punchbowl Cemetery’. John recounts:

It is a huge military cemetery in the mouth of an extinct volcano. During our visit, we laid a wreath to commemorate those who had lost their lives. We were also joined by some British officers from the Navy, Air Force and a few marines too.

Following a barge tour of the memorial, John and Angus then finished their time in Hawaii by attending the National Pearl Harbour Remembrance Day parade. On the 7th December 2023, the parade marked the 82nd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941. Veterans, survivors and visitors from across the globe came together to remember those who had lost their lives during the attack. 

On to Washington D.C 

Kicking off their second week, John and Angus travelled to the USA’s capital. 

They began their time here with a visit to the British Embassy, followed by the FBI Experience Center Hoover Building, a visit to the Pentagon and a guided tour of the Capital Senate Building. 

Grave headstones at Arlington National Cemetery with wreaths
A highlight from the week, was their visit to the famous Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath of remembrance. Established during the American Civil War, the cemetery is now the resting place of over 300,000 American Armed Forces Veterans and covers over 600 acres of land. 

Every grave had been given a wreath which had been laid by children. Thousands of wreaths! It was a massive memorial.

Rounding off the two-weeks, John and Angus visited the Military Women’s Memorial as well as the White House. Here, they met with the British Ambassador to the US, Dame Karen Pierce, and fellow military personnel. 

John reflected on his time during the trip and shared with us:

 I wanted to go because my dad had always wanted to. He was relieved from Stalag 383 so I told him, if I could, I would go. He was in Stalag 383 for four years before he was liberated! I was told when I was out there that some of the camp is still there and it’s now a museum. I think that will be my next project to visit.

Chelsea Pensioners in Scarlet Uniforms sitting with the Lady Ambassador round a table

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