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Pearl Harbor Historian: Reconciliation almost came 50 years earlier

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It was to say the least, high drama unfolding on the waters of Pearl Harbor with Navy seals ready in place.

It was in anticipation of an historic gesture of reconciliation--

a private ceremony at the Arizona Memorial with President Barrack Obama and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that took place Tuesday.

But it was on the ride back on the Admiral's yacht that a little bit of history unfolded, in a most remarkable way.   

You see, President John F. Kennedy had been the first president to visit the memorial after it had opened in the 1960's.

History goes, that it was Kennedy who had a vision for the first real act of reconciliation with Japan.

A National Parks historian onboard the admiral's barge was able to share a story of special significance, since President Kennedy's daughter was board the very same vessel that once carried her father.

 "Caroline Kennedy, Ambassador Kennedy was there, and I happened to mentioned, Mr. President, I don’t know that you know this, but President JFK reached out to the Japanese people in 1963, and he did something unusual in that he pre-videotaped a speech to the Japanese people," said Pearl Harbor historian Daniel Martinez.

While serving during the war, Kennedy's patrol torpedo boat had been rammed by a Japanese war ship.

That event triggered the earliest steps toward reconciliation between two countries once enemies, now allies.

"His plan was to go to Japan and bring the survivors, the crew members of the 109 to meet with the captain of the Amagiri and that crew," said Martinez.

But that never came to be, because Kennedy was assassinated shortly after.

"So, President Kennedy’s vision to be the first president to return to Japan and the first act of reconciliation with the Japanese destroyer crew and the captain, it didn't happen, said Martinez.

Martinez recalls Obama's reaction was: ‘That's quite a story!’

Two days later, Martinez is still on a history high.  He never imagined he would cap his career of 40 years studying Pacific wars, like this.

"That I would find myself in the midst of a president and the prime minister, not in my wildest dreams," said Martinez.

And now that's his story, Daniel Martinez's page of Hawaii history.