Yesterday, I had the very distinct and personal honor to visit the World War II Pacific Memorials at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. On vacation with my family over Christmas week, we had scheduled months out to visit the Memorial, and especially the USS Arizona Memorial on Tuesday. Little did we know that the President of the United States had a similar plan, and we were not invited!
So, the Mercer clan punted to the next day…thank you Mr. President. If you have not had the opportunity to visit the Memorials, then you are not aware of the fact that there are a limited number of tickets – 1,300 free tickets, to be exact, and you need to be in line to receive the tickets by 7:00A.M. Thanks to a longer than planned stop at Starbucks to wake the troops, we arrived ten minutes later than the suggested time. That mistake was on us…can’t blame the Commander-in-Chief for everything.
Regardless of the miss in time, we had the chance to stand in line with over 2,000 other humans from around the world, which wanted to see the Memorials…or, most specifically, the Arizona. While in line we met a few families, some of the nicest people, really. There was the family with the Navy dad in front of us, and the sweet old couple that asked us if they could politely wait/cut in line with us. The old guy was a Marine, and had served in Alabama at one time.
As we approached the ticket window a true sense or realism blanketed the crowd, it was time to raise the Colors. First, there was a call to attention, and every Park employee and military person stopped what they were doing, faced the direction of the flag and stood as straight and proud as they could. Most civilians understood what was happening and also politely turned towards the flag…caps were removed from the tops of heads…hands placed on hearts…a silence fell that I will always remember, and the National Anthem played.
As the notes from the Star Spangled Banner played, people sang the words, some hummed, and I did a little of both. It was about a third of the way through the Anthem when several things/feelings/emotions filled my head. This was a December day, at Pearl Harbor, probably very similar to the one 75 years ago. I saw several older veterans amongst the crowd, saluting with a lifetime of service and honor. I could almost hear the souls of the men and women who had died at this hallowed place, humming beside me. The feeling was warming, and made me VERY proud to be an American.
Within the minute, the song came to a close. The flag was secured, and the still crowd thawed from their spots. There were a few that applauded, but most picked back up with their conversations in the line. My wife and son leaned into me and complained about several Japanese tourists that continued to talk during the Anthem. I had not heard them, but just shook my head, my anger would never change their ideals of respect…in fact, the sheer number of Japanese touring the Memorials was shocking, but I think I’ll save that observation for another blog.
Unfortunately we were about 50 people shy of getting tickets for the Arizona, but fortunately we did get the opportunity to explore the USS Missouri – WOW, what a ship! I’ve been on a few battleships, but never an Iowa Class battleship! We had the good graces to have Joe, a Veteran of Vietnam, be our guide. Joe brought passion and a sense of duty to our tour, and brought my wife and I to tears when he choked up during a Q&A session about the number of people that died during WWII.
And that is just it, this place; this hallowed water, is a place of tears, pride, service, duty and sacrifice. It is a memorial to those that rode the tip of the spear so that the rest of us could go on. Pearl Harbor serves as a memorial, a reminder of what’s important, and as a tomb to those that need us to remember. I will always remember, my family will always remember, and if you have the chance to visit, I hope that you will come away with the same sense of honor that I felt, just to have visited.
To learn more about these fantastic pieces of American history, see: www.pacifichistoricparks.org
May God bless our country and those that protect Her.
Books by G. Allen Mercer
This brand new action adventure series follows Ian, Leah and Grace Burrows after the unthinkable has happened; a foreign country has detonated nuclear bombs on US soil in and has launched an invasion force.
Their family is prepared for almost any emergency, but they never imagined that they would actually face their worst case scenario; a massive attack on America while the family is spread apart from each other.
Teen brother and sister, Jack and Lucy, are trapped under the Atlanta airport after a nuclear bomb has been detonated in downtown Atlanta. Join them as they fight to survive what comes next.
Collapsing World: Stolen Treasure – Book 3 (Spring 2017)
Underlying Grace Series
Have you ever questioned what God might have in store for your life? In this work of fiction, Neil Abrams and his family find themselves in the crossroads of this very question. The Underlying Grace series is action, questions and belief all rolled into compelling stories about the will to survive…and thrive!
Book 1: Underlying Grace
Book 2: Mighty To Save
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