Pearl Harbor 72 years after……………………..
he gentle Hawaiian breeze blows in from the Pacific, rolling over gentle waves and across beaches. Through palm trees, past coconuts and across grasses. Sweeping across a quiet lagoon the cool air crashes into cold hard gray steel. The waves below the air quietly lap against the hull of an Iowa class battleship. Basking in the warm Hawaiian sun, the U.S.S. Missouri welcomes the dawn peacefully, the only sounds are of the wind and the water.
Pearl Harbor, December 7th, 2013
Today, this lagoon harbor on Oahu, Hawaii is quiet. Navy ships float lazily at their moorings, a few sailors moving about on deck. All of the ships here have significance, but there are two that stand above all others. Beneath the waves and warm tropical waters, rests the U.S.S. Arizona. Already well known throughout the world, 1,177 American souls still reside inside the hull, now their tomb. The white memorial built above the ship is visited by hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. They come to pay their respects, reflect and give thanks.
The other ship is the U.S.S. Missouri. Today she floats proudly, a spot on her deck which was the scene of the Japanese surrender that ended the war in the Pacific. She now fulfills one last mission. Moored bow to bow with the U.S.S. Arizona, her massive 16” guns elevated and at the ready, she solemnly stands guard over her fallen sister, and the heroes entombed inside. She both beams with the triumph of victory, and the sadness of loss. Above all, she exudes pride and strength. Together these two ships represent the beginning and the end of the greatest and most costly war in modern American history.
Today, 72 years after this peaceful harbor was shredded the savage bullets splitting the air, shaken by the thunderous explosions of steel being ripped apart and pierced by the screams of men caught in the Hell that was the morning of December 7th, 1941, we must take a moment to remember what happened here. By doing so, every year, we ensure that the lessons, legacy and sacrifices taught to us, as a nation and a people, at such a tragically high cost shall not have been in vain. Though now the combatants of that day are allies, and veterans on both sides of the gun barrel now shake hands in peace and understanding, the contribution these Americans made to our nation and the security we enjoy is still as relevant as it ever was, and must be honored, remembered and revered. The history books can tell you the details, the articles of war, being made of steel and wood guaranteeing near immortality will stand as a monument for many years to come, but the national treasure that is our veterans is a fleeting one.
So, on this day, we, as a nation, turn towards Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii and give thanks to those who withstood the opening salvos of WWII, whether they keep a watchful eye from Heaven or the beach, as well as all of the Americans who have made up that thin line that separated the greatest country on earth from the greatest tyranny on earth. Our freedom carries a higher price than any other asset this nation, as a people, has ever purchased.