The Seton Hall Basketball team took part in the Pearl Harbor Invitational on the naval disaster's 75th anniversary; a trip that took on much more meaning than just a game.
The team played a pair of games in the invitational; first
against University of Hawaii then against the University of California
on December 7, the day of the attacks. However, the matchups were only a
part of a trip that marked monumental experiences for the Pirates.
Arriving four days before the game, Seton Hall players and coaches had the opportunity to experience the beautiful Hawai'i island of Oahu, but also learn more about the tragedy that took place on the "Day that will live in infamy."
On Tuesday, December 5, The Pirates took a trip to the Pearl Harbor Memorial where they could see the display of the 1,177 names of those who lost their lives on the USS Arizona. The sunken ship is still visible under the water at the Memorial. In total, more than 2300 Americans perished in the attack.
"It is hard to see all of the soldiers that passed," Seton Hall guard Madison Jones said in an interview with The Setonian. "To see how many family members and brothers and fathers and sons that passed away."
Jones has a special family connection to the military. His grandfather, Lattie Hunter, fought for America in the Vietnam War and died years after, due to complications from the war. Also, his two older brothers, Shawn Bizzell and Marco Jones, are currently serving in the United States Armed Forces.
"My brothers and my grandpa being servicemen makes me feel blessed to have an opportunity to do something for people who defend our country," Jones said to Pirate Sports Network's John Fanta. "I've watched these games before. I have always imagined how cool it would be to partake in an event like that."
The team also had the opportunity to explore some of the
military equipment on the joint base. The Pacific Marines let the
Pirates check out their fighter jets and helicopters, and see what it's
like to sit in the same place as some of the nation's bravest men and
"When you have the opportunity to educate the current generation on the greatness of the past generations, I don't think you can pass that up," coach Kevin Willard said to Sean Saint Jacques of The Setonian.
Along with the tours, players and coaches had a chance to talk to some current members of the military, and some who had given their service in the past. Jones described it as "an eye opening experience."
The Pirates went 2-0 in the invitational, but the experience of the trip may have been the greatest win of the week.
"It is a phenomenal opportunity for this generation to understand the sacrifices of past generations," Willard said. "What an honor it is to play in this country, what an honor it is when the Anthem plays and how many soldiers have lost their lives so we can play this great game?"