After being named an All-American Cheerleader, Declan Hudson participated in the Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade.
When Declan Hudson, a junior cheerleader at Braden River High School, tried to take a photo with retired Army Nurse Corps Second Lt. Hazel Von Roeder while visiting Pearl Harbor, she noticed Von Roeder had trouble focusing.
But when Hudson asked her about the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, her memory was clear.
Von Roeder said she was in nursing school when Pearl Harbor was attacked, and talked about how she knew the country would be going to war. It prompted her to join the Army Nurse Corps.
Talking to World War II veterans lifted Hudson's experience of participating in the 80th anniversary Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade Dec. 7 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Hudson had been honored with a selection to Universal Cheerleaders Association's All-American Cheerleaders squad. In turn, the Varsity Spirit group assembled All-American cheerleader groups, such as the UCA team, from throughout the U.S. to participate in the parade. In all 640 cheerleaders participated.
“I had an experience a lot of people never get,” Hudson said. "It was an honor to hear from the veterans.”
UCA's All-American Cheerleaders are selected through a tryout based on superior cheerleading or dance skills they had displayed at camp.
Hudson was joined on the trip to Hawaii by her mother, Maureen Hudson, and they toured Pearl Harbor, visiting the USS Arizona and USS Missouri memorials. Declan Hudson said the tours and the conversations with veterans brought meaning to her trip.
“It was an honor but sad at the same time,” Declan Hudson said.
They met a veteran who was on the USS Enterprise.
“You could hear in (the veteran's) voice there was sort of a survivor's remorse and on the other hand, he was just so grateful (to be alive),” Declan Hudson said.
During the parade, the cheerleaders performed a routine they individually practiced before landing in Hawaii. They spent a day in Hawaii putting the routine together. They performed the routine in front of thousands of people who lined the parade route. Declan Hudson said she never had performed in front of so many people.
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