Michigan HS choir honors former director and her dream on National Pearl Harbor Remembrance day

The Armada High School choir had taken the trip of a lifetime to Hawaii as part of a day honoring the victims of the attack on Pearl Harbor decades ago when, while performing during a ceremony, it began to rain.

That may have seemed like a dreary welcome from the tropical state, but if you ask the locals, it means something very different.

"(They) reassured us that the rain is a blessing, and so we were told that we were blessed during our performance," said Sara Surzyn.

Surzyn is the Armada High School choir director. The trip she and her students ventured on took them more than four thousand miles away from home to Honolulu. There, they performed next to the USS Missouri, honoring National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. 

But that wasn't the only subject being celebrated.

"It was amazing and I think the most important part is that she is here with us, and so she is carrying on this dream with us and we're experiencing this," said Ruby Amthor, who sings in the choir. 

She is Rachel Ulinski, the former choir director and a beloved mother and wife. 

The Blue Star mother died in June. Her dream since 2000 had been to honor the day the U.S. was attacked in 1941. In an effort to honor her as well as her wishes, the community galvanized to send the choir to perform.

"It was a very powerful experience, especially for my dad, my sister and I to see my mom's students and her new teacher doing this - it's been almost two years since they planned this and not a single dry eye on the boat," Ryan Ulinski said.

Syrzyn said the students were paid for, with a lot of money coming from sponsors as well as Rachel's memorial. 

"A lot of people donated in order to bring h er dream to fruition," she said.

"When she passed, my family decided that it would be best to continue what she wanted to do and bring them here, so it's really cool that we're all here finally," said Dana Soltis, Rachel's daughter.

Rachel's family had gathered virtually to speak to FOX 2. The experience that arrived on Dec. 7 was one they'll never forget.

"For everybody to come together in such a small community to raise these kind of funds to get all these people here - it shows what kind of a person she was," said Bob Ulinski, husband to Rachel. 

"People often thank us for sharing our mom - and that's pretty cool that other people see her as that as well," said Soltis.

For anyone who wants to donate to the fund, they can find a paypal here and Four County Community Foundation here.

If someone wants to watch the parade, they'll find it here.