Sunday, September 29, 2013

A little something I wrote for Memorial Day but just got around to posting.

Several years ago while serving in the Navy Reserve I was in Hawaii for training.   One Sunday morning I put on my dress white cracker jack uniform, I even wore my favorite dog dish hat that I had carefully rolled the edges just right to look like a salty sailor and headed across Pearl Harbor (the base) from Arizona Hall where I was staying to the USS Arizona Memorial. It was crowded being a Sunday morning, a few boats of visitors had been ferried across to the memorial. As I went across on the ferry I was the only person in uniform other than the two crew members a petty officer and a seaman. I waited to be last to exit the ferry. As I exited I looked down into the water and for the first time gained perspective of the size of the Arizona. I felt a somber peace come over me as I walked up the ramp to the memorial. It was nearly silent even though there were probably 60 people there. I walked across the memorial to the wall of names. There was a Pearl Harbor survivor there visiting staring at the names on the wall. I could tell he was a Pearl Harbor survivor by the Hawaiian shirt and the garrison cap (piss splitter) denoting him as a Pearl Harbor Survivor from BB-44 the USS California, The same ship that my mother’s uncle Kenny would later die on near the end of the war. As he stood watching I noticed it was just he and I and everyone else had moved back. Without thinking about it, I snapped to attention and rendered a ceremonious salute to the wall of service men that died that day. Standing just feet over the very watery grave of the 1102 sailors entombed in the USS Arizona BB-39. It was a powerful and emotional moment for me. Suddenly the Pearl Harbor Survivor standing just a few feet away snapped a tidy salute in a ceremonious tempo. I pulled my salute and did a tidy about face, but in a ceremonious tempo and started to walk back to the ferry with very foggy eyes. The Vet called out to me, “Shipmate” (In the Navy everyone is your shipmate young or old, it’s like calling someone brother) I stopped and turned around. He reached out to shake my hand. I reached back and he said “Thank you”. Feeling wholly inadequate I responded with a crackling voice “No, thank you… for your service... and... sacrifice” He smiled and embraced me. The conversation was rich and memorable as we talked. It was not the official Memorial Day we celebrate in May, but for me it was ever so memorial. Happy Memorial Day, and thank you to those that served, all gave some, some gave all.












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