MUTUAL ADMIRATION CLUB
Veterans of the two most infamous sneak attacks in U.S. history met in Hawaii earlier this week to exchange respects from one generation to another.
Two groups of New York City police officers and firefighters who were at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 visited the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor on Tuesday and Wednesday to pay their respects to the survivors and those killed in the Japanese attack on the Navy base 60 years ago Friday.
"So many times, we've heard what we went through was called the Pearl Harbor of the 21st century. So to be here and see what these men went through and to actually meet some of them, it's a privilege," Thomas Rowe, a 41-year-old police officer told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
Twenty-three NYPD officers died on Sept. 11 when the Twin Towers collapsed, including 14 from the elite Emergency Services Unit that Rowe belonged to.
Rowe was among 600 emergency personnel, family members and survivors of Sept. 11 terrorist attack who were treated by Hawaii state officials to an all-expenses paid trip to the idyllic islands for some well-deserved rest at a time when Hawaii's tourist industry has been reeling from a post-Sept. 11 decline.
Like many other visitors, Rowe called the visit to Pearl Harbor the highlight of the Hawaiian trip. "It's humbling to be here," he said.
The early-morning attack on Pearl Harbor and other Hawaiian military installations in 1941 left 2,403 Americans dead, including 54 civilians; the death toll in the destruction of the battleship Arizona alone was 1,177. The World Trade Center disaster left an estimated 3,152 dead.
A group of Pearl Harbor vets said they felt a sense of awe meeting up with the New Yorkers. "I'm proud of you guys, real proud," 80-year-old Hank Freitas of Walnut Creek, Calif., who was aboard the USS Tangier on Dec. 7, 1941.
THINGS WE DON'T UNDERSTAND
One important barrier of presidential privacy fell when Bill Clinton answered that question on whether he wore briefs or boxers during his MTV chat. But did we really need to learn from Jimmy Carter, his Southern Democrat predecessor in the White House, as related in Carter's new book,"A Plains Christmas," that he had to decline most invitations to Christmas parties in 1978 because he was in agony from hemorrhoids? Presidential piles deserve privacy.
(From UPI Hears)
NEWS OF OTHER LIFE FORMS
About 400 top-notch computer game players from 37 different countries have come to Seoul, South Korea, for the first World Cyber Games, where they will compete for a total of $300,000 in prizes.
The competition includes the popular first-person "shooter" game "Quake III," and "Starcraft: Brood War," which pits three imaginary future races against each other. Such games are played on networks, with each contestant sitting at a separate computer. Those kinds of setups are popular in South Korea, where there are about 20,000 gaming cafes, according to the BBC.
Contestants at the Cyber Games had to win national elimination tournaments to make it to Seoul.
(Thanks to UPI's Joe Warminsky in Washington)
TODAY'S SIGN THE WORLD IS ENDING
America's pastime did not do well financially in 2001. Baseball commissioner Allan "Bud" Selig told the House Judiciary Committee Thursday that professional baseball lost -- all told -- about $519 million last year, with only five clubs earning a profit and 25 losing money.
AND FINALLY, TODAY'S UPLIFTING STORY
The Universal Theme Parks in Orlando, Fla., and Hollywood, Calif., are offering a "Heroes Salute" to those who serve. Beginning Jan. 1 and running through April 30, all active U.S. military personnel, as well as all U.S. police, firefighters and rescue personnel will be given free admission to Universal's theme parks as part of a new "Heroes Salute" program.
Accompanying family members and friends of those eligible for free admission will be given a 50 percent discounted admission to the theme parks.
The offer will be good at Universal Orlando's two theme parks, Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, the Orlando waterpark Wet n' Wild, and at Universal Studios Hollywood.
"These people are truly American heroes and we want to thank them for their commitment to our country and our communities," said Tom Williams, Chairman and CEO of the Universal Studios Recreation Group. "We also want to thank their family members, who greatly contribute to the strength behind what they do each day."
(Web sites: universalorlando.com, universalstudioshollywood.com)