In honor of Memorial Day, we would like to share one of our board member’s, Matt Previts personal account of escorting 3 out of the 5 living USS Arizona Survivors last year, to Washington D.C. to honor their crewmate, Joe George, who disobeyed orders in order to ultimately save their lives.
Lauren Brunner (96), Don Stratton (95) and Ken Potts (96) were on a mission to recognize and formally decorate their hero, Joe George, the sailor who saved their lives along 4 other survivors that fateful day, December 7, 1941.
“During the trip to Hawaii for the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor, I came to understand that Ken Potts (96), Don Stratton (95), and Lauren Bruner (96), 3 of the 5 living USS Arizona Survivors, had never been to Washington, D.C. In addition, Don and Lauren were still on a mission to have Joe George, the sailor from the USS Vestal who saved their lives and the lives of 4 others, formally decorated. With those two realities in mind, we planned a trip for them.
Here we go…
On Wednesday, July 19, 2017, our 3 survivors arrived in Washington D.C. welcomed by a water cannon salute greeted by the Navy, Army and Honor Flight Personnel at the gate. Initially, when the survivors stepped off the plane, God Bless America was sung.
The next day, we were treated to a private breakfast at the Navy/Army Club. The survivors were each presented with 5 oz. pure silver 75th Anniversary Pearl Harbor coin. Shortly after breakfast, they were escorted by the National Park Service Police to the WWII Memorial, where they walked around and took in the scenery.
We then set off for the Senate Office Building, where we had the pleasure of meeting various senators including Senator Gardner, who shared a letter written by his father who was a WWII Paratrooper, serving in Europe. The letter was from the day the Germans surrendered. Each senator was presented with the book: “All The Gallant Men” written by one of the survivors himself, Don Stratton, and 1 of the 75 USS Arizona 75th Anniversary coins which are only given by USS Arizona survivors.
And before we knew it, the big day had arrived. We started the day with breakfast at the Army/Navy Club and soon after we were escorted to Arlington National Cemetery by the National Park Service for the Official Wreath Laying took place. This ceremony is typically reserved for presidents/heads of state, but this was a special occasion. After the powerful ceremony honoring the USS Arizona and her crew, we headed off to the Pentagon.
Our survivors were greeted down two hallways lined with hundreds of service members, clapping and celebrating the bravery and heroism of Brunner, Stratton and Potts. After speaking with a staff member of 22-years, she said she’s never seen anything like it. After the warm welcome, they were off for a full tour of the Pentagon.
Once the all- inclusive tour ended, we all met with the Secretary of Defense, the Chief of Naval Operations and other notable staff to hear the first account of their story. Lauren spoke powerfully from the heart for 10 minutes, highlighting Joe George saving him and then asked Don to pick up and keep the story going. The SECDEF and CNO were presented with 75th anniversary challenge coin as well as a wooden painting of the US Flag signed by the survivors.
Sooner than later, we found ourselves loading into vans headed to the White House, escorted by Pentagon Police through our nation’s capital. After an extensive security pre-check, complete with car screenings and bomb-sniffing dogs, we finally were granted entrance. The White House staff led us into the West Wing, where we relaxed in the Roosevelt Room, right outside the Oval Office.
The survivors arranged to give the President a piece of the ship, a signed USS Arizona hat, and a 75th anniversary challenge coin while gifting the first lady a bracelet containing a piece of the ship. We entered the Oval Office and waited for the President. Originally, this was to be a private meeting/gift exchange. Once he read the briefing I prepared, he asked if the survivors would be open to him reading a public statement and having the press in the room. He entered and greeted us and then said “Ok, time to let the press in”. The President left, then the press exited.
The door swung open and the President came back in saying “Let’s take some pictures, let’s talk some more!” Once we wrapped up, we were disappointed to hear that the White House tours ended at 1 p.m. Much to our delight, the President’s staff arranged for a uniformed secret service police officer to provide a VIP tour and were told to “stay as long as we’d like”.
The last day of our journey arrived and we headed out to our last excursion, the US Navy Museum. We were greeted warmly by the Commanding Officer for the Navy Yard and the head of the US Navy History and Heritage Society. Sailors took the survivors around the museum and were permitted to see and hold some of the museum’s most priceless artifact’s, including a 600 year old Japanese sword. We also stopped by the Old Guard’s stables to see the horses and caisson’s used in funerals at Arlington National Cemetery.”
This trip, and the story of the survivors and Joe George will be told by the WWII Foundation in a film narrated by Gary Sinese, related on Memorial Day 2018.
To see additional photos of the trip
Have you been thinking about hiring a personal trainer?
Having the expertise of a personal trainer can be helpful for you, especially if you don’t know where to start, want to improve your technique, or aren’t seeing any results. At the YMCA, our personal trainers are ready to get you on track, ensure you see the results you’ve been dreaming about and help you achieve your goals.
So why you should invest in personal training at the Y? Here are 5 reasons why:
1. Get personalized workouts: Whether you want to just lose body fat, train for a marathon or just incorporate other exercises into your routine, our personal trainers can customize your workouts based on what you need.
2. Accountability: Personal training sessions are by appointment, so you’re more likely to show up. A personal trainer will also help you develop the habit of going to the gym regularly and consistently
3. You build a relationship: Your personal trainer is your ally with your best interests and goals at heart. They are invested in you as much are you are invested in them. As you open up to your trainer about your personal health struggles, your trainer will be able to provide comfort and empathy toward you and map out a way to help you overcome them through fitness.
4. They motivate you: On days when we don’t feel motivated to go to the gym or want to give up on our goals, personal trainers can help motivate you to get past any discouragement and stay focused. Personal trainers can also change up your exercises to keep your workouts interesting.
5. They track your progress: Personal trainers track and measure your progress each session. They help you set short and long-term goals for yourself. Over time, your trainer will show you how far you’ve come since you first started and what to do next.
Meet your Personal Trainer Match
All personal trainers have different niches, specialties and training styles. They even have different personalities. To find the right trainer for you, go to your Y’s Welcome Center and ask to talk with several of the personal trainers. Tell the trainer what your goals are, how frequently you’d like to work out, what your budget is and any struggles you have had in the past. As you meet different personal trainers, you’ll find the right one whose expertise fits your needs and inspire you to stay on track, avoid injury, and achieve your health goals.
Friend and family get-togethers, traveling, shopping, cooking — the holiday season is often met with a mix of joy and stress — hopefully more of the former. Are you worried about sticking to your wellness plan during the upcoming weeks? No worries, we’ve got some quick tips to help you stay healthy over the holiday.
And…there’s never been a better time to join the Y! Start off the New Year by joining by January 9, and pay only an $18 join fee – a savings up to $100! Learn more about memberships and get started here.
Each year we find ourselves reflecting upon what we’ve done and where we’ve found meaning in our lives. At the Y, we don’t just make a difference every few months, we make a difference every day of the year. The donations we receive create meaningful memories and build stronger relationships in our communities for those who may not be able to afford these experiences otherwise.
Each year we’re able to explain through numbers the impact of our Annual Campaign, but the truth is, our numbers only tell part of the story. Numbers will never be able to convey that amazing feeling of making your first soccer goal with the Y in youth sports or winning a battle you never thought you’d be able to overcome. Numbers can't convey the confidence found in swimming across the shallow end of the pool for the first time or knowing that your child is safe and having fun at a Y in a before or after-school program.
But numbers do matter. When you make a gift to the YMCA of Greater Cleveland, your gift will help young people achieve their potential, empower people of all ages to lead healthier lives and strengthen the bonds of community in our region. Please consider making a gift to the Y during this season of giving. Join us and make a difference in someone’s life today because no matter where you come from and no matter what the need, every gift matters.
For a few hours on the fourth Thursday of every November, families across America gather to celebrate Thanksgiving in all different ways. Some traditions include watching a parade, running a race, playing a friendly game of football, cooking, eating (and sometimes napping!) together.
It’s common for children to learn about gratitude through this holiday, but there are many more teaching moments that happy and healthy families have shared.
Here are just a few ways that you can strengthen relationships and support healthy youth development on Thanksgiving:
*Just a reminder that ALL branches will be closed this Thursday, Nov. 23 so our staff and members can enjoy Thanksgiving with their family and friends.
It's that time of year again when if porch lights are on in neighborhoods, it usually means one thing—eager and motivated trick-or-treaters trying to fill their bag with as much candy as they can. Find out what time your trick or treat is below!
Happy trick or treating!
Akron: 10/28 - 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Aurora: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Avon: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Avon Lake: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Bath Township: 10/29 - 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Bay Village: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Beachwood: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Bentleyville: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Berea: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Brecksville: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Broadview Heights: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Brooklyn: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Brooklyn Heights: 10/21 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Brook Park: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Brunswick: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Chagrin Falls: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Cleveland: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Cleveland Heights: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Euclid: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Fairport Harbor: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Fairview Park: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Gates Mills: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Highland Heights: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Hudson: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Independence: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Lakewood: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Lyndhurst: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Maple Heights: 10/31 - 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Mayfield Heights: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Mayfield Village: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Middleburg Heights: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
North Olmsted: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
North Royalton: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Olmsted Falls: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Olmsted Township: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Orange Village: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Parma: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Parma Heights: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Pepper Pike: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Richmond Heights: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m
Rocky River: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Shaker Heights: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Seven Hills: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Solon: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
South Euclid: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Strongsville: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Tallmadge: 10/26 - 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Warrensville Heights: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Westlake: 10/31 - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Visit the following branches for their annual Halloween celebrations this month:
Friday, October 13
Friday, October 20
Friday, October 27
Saturday, October 28