Friday, December 12, 2014

Solemnity and Some Smiles

Aloha from Oahu on this Friday morning.  Still black out there here in the islands.  The sun comes up a little after 7 each morning, so we have a lot of darkness left as it's 5:23 back home.  

I have so many pictures from yesterday that I'll probably still be posting for a while after Helen's coffee-cup time, so do check back later in the day if you wish to see all the images of a day that took us from the "hangin' loose" at the surfing competition (postponed yet another day) to the solemnity of Pearl Harbor and the Punchbowl National Military Cemetery.  

We went from the edge of tears several times to the edge of the ocean once more, snorkeling at a beach/preserve outside of Honolulu. The day was topped off with dinner at one of the resort restaurants where a reggae musician named Mike Love was about to perform.

We were spent so we did not pay the cover charge, but we did say hello to Mr. Love before his performance.

That was our day in a nutshell.  I saw tears welling on my husband's eyelids as he pointed out a name on the wall of honor at the Arizona.  "Stockman," it read.  

Is Dana a Facebook friend of yours? he asked.  

I wasn't sure, but I took photos, and he took photos, and I'm sure someone will tell Dana that a photo showing the name of one of her relatives aboard the Arizona appears here today.

I did not know anyone who died at Pearl Harbor, but like so many people my age, I felt sadness for the strangers who lost their lives that day and for the generation who rushed to the American cause after the surprise attack that killed so many so quickly.

The sadness comes from the fact that the generation of our parents and all those who contributed to our nation's cause after Pres. Roosevelt declared war are almost gone. They served as our conduit to real life stories about the horrors of Pearl Harbor Day and the days thereafter.

We were fortunate, however, to have a Pearl Harbor survivor aboard our boat that took us to the Arizona Memorial.  He pointed to an orange and white structure off in the bay and said that's where he was when the attack came.

"They were only after ships and planes," he said, indicating that his structure specialized in fuel. 

When the survivor and his wife walked off the boat after the tour, a spontaneous and generous applause ushered them down the walkway.  Very touching, indeed.

Later, I met another survivor and bought his book.  He comes to Pearl Harbor four days a week and autographs his book with a hand stamp.  This survivor has lived in Hawaii most of his life.

One of the sweetest, gentlest souls I've ever met, I'd say.  When a family with some little children came, he sat happily for photos with each child and gave them a hand-out with his photo and a summary.

"When you go back to school, take this and tell them you visited Pearl Harbor," he instructed each youngster.  They beamed with pride with their token of the visit and with his gentle guidance.

He is 97.5 years old and a proud family man who established an electrical business on the island, which has been in existence 60 years.  His son now runs the business. 

Mr. Weatherwax's photo appears in some of the displays at the Pearl Harbor Museum.  I'll never forget the few minutes spent with him.  Some of my friends who knew Fr. O'Donovan would have a good idea of the sweetness and love this man shared with every eye contact and hand shake.  

Bill was living his life dream while touring Pearl Harbor, so he spent additional time touring a submarine (nope, he didn't spend the night) and then another hour at the submarine museum.

We moved on to the Punchbowl Cemetery, where the main structure is currently under some reconstruction right now, but the grounds and displays were both moving and unforgettable. 

It was truly a Kodak moment when I got out of the jeep and walked over to a grave which has fresh floral offerings lying on the ground above the stone.  It read "Daniel Inouye, Son of Hawaii."  

As I look at the time, I'll post what's completed and continue to add photos from a day for us which will definitely live in our memories forever.  Let the photos do the rest of the talking.  

Happy Friday. 



Word Tosser said...

When we went in 2010, everyone was talking on the boat over.. but once was silent.. until about half way thru, which time a choral group who was on the boat with us.. (they were in Hawaii for a chorus convention)they sang the Star Spangle Banner... there was not a dry eye in the place, as we started to all file back to the boat. Very overwhelming.. At the cemetery we saw Ernie Pyle grave.. up the thousand stairs to the top was a beautiful map and where all the ships were in the Pacific.. your pictures bring back memories of a great trip

Word Tosser said...

Oh, don't miss the huge flea market at the bowl on Sunday.. the buys are so great. I got a Hawaiian dress for $13.. brand new