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Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Pearl Harbor remembered by C.R. Wood...

My father-in-law is now passed on.  He was a purple heart winner and a hero to me, a man who went to war in WWII (My father was too young, he fought in Korea).  I served during the Vietnam War period and my oldest son is out now but was across the wire in Afghanistan and came home with awards and memories but no wounds.   I have been to Arlington Cemetery and been humbled by the long lines of white headstones, the reminders that freedom is not free, lest we forget.  I have stood and looked down at the Arizona and can attest that fuel oil still bubbles up from within the confines of the ship.  I have been atop Diamond Head and crouched to enter the bunker set up to defend the island and I found a large caliber shell casing buried in the sands near the airport where Japanese Zero attacks decimated our air forces there on that day before they could get off the ground.  I wondered if it had been ejected from a big gun on that day.  Now and then I take it out and ponder all the little things that add up to the big thing that is America.

My friend and spiritual father and mentor Dr. Wood remembers Pearl Harbor so I will give this space to him:

     It was a lovely Sunday afternoon, actually somewhat warm for December 7 in New Jersey.  My Father and I had been out for a walk and were just heading home as we passed a small deli operated by two older ladies that lived just across the street from us.  The store wasn‘t open on Sunday, but Mame, the older of the sisters, had come in to do some cleaning, etc.  She noticed us as we passed and came running out crying, “Oh, Mr. Wood, the Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.”  As we turned the final corner and looked down Clinton Place, most of the neighbors were outside, several of them mounting or raising flags.  And thus began a five-year long period of stressed excitement for this boy who was halfway through his ninth year that fateful day.

     Over the years I have stood with silent awe and tear-stained cheeks in the American Military Cemetery in Luxemburg City, in the “Punch Bowl” just outside Honolulu, on the Pearl Harbor memorial and on the seemingly never-ending plain above the beaches of Normandy.  I have also walked through much of Arlington National Cemetery and bowed my head in reverential honor at the tomb of that “soldier known only to God.”  Each time, I have silently prayed, “God bless America and thank you for all those gallant men and women who have given their lives to preserve and advance what I believe to be the greatest nation on earth.”  

     Today, as we observe the seventieth anniversary of that long ago day of infamy, my prayer is a bit altered, and I pray, ”God preserve America and may all those who made the supreme sacrifice not have died in vain.”  Michelle Obama surely spoke for a very small group of Americans when she said on Inauguration Day, “I have never been proud to be an American until today.”  Sadly, I had never been ashamed to be an American until that day, and I am very sure my feelings are shared by multitudes more than those who share the words of Mrs Obama.  

     Not long ago, a nearby college decided to drop the singing of the National Anthem before sporting and other events on the campus.  The reason?  The words are just too bellicose for a group that selectively professes to be “pacifist.”  Maybe they heard the words of the last stanza of our national hymn and were even more frightened:

         “O thus be it ever when free men shall stand
         Between their loved homes and a war’s desolation.
         Blessed with victory and peace
         May this heaven-rescued land
         Praise the Power that has made and preserved us a nation
         Then conquer we must when our cause it is just
         And this be our motto: ‘in God is our trust.’
         And the star-spangled banner forever shall wave
         O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

     With a President not even born on that fateful day and seemingly ignorant of much of the history of this great nation, how much we need to pray that God will once again pour out His blessings on this land and allow us to continue to live in the freedom for which so many paid so much.  To all those still with us who were there that day or who served in the horrorific war that followed: thank you, and may God bless you.  May you never be forgotten!


     Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential liberty for the sake of a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety.”

     “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”  I Cor. 1:12 (KJV)

     “Don’t trust those who forget the past, and offer the banality, ‘Look ahead; don’t dwell on the past.’  Without memory we are nothing.”  - Victor Davis Hanson

     “Memory is not just recollection, but the ability to fathom what was said and what was not and to recognize the fragility of memory itself.”  - Victor Davis Hanson

     “Candor: The ability to place honesty over comfort.  A sense of loyalty to the truth of the ages rather than to the lies of the present.”  - Victor Davis Hanson