Having served at Pearl Harbor three times I can attest to the raw emotions that still linger there. I was awestruck by how overwhelmed I felt from the history of the navy base. I served in a building that still has the bullet holes from being strafed by Japanese zeroes. When you go to Ford Island you can feel the terror the men and women felt as bombs and bullets fell about them
I had the opportunity to interview three Pearl Harbor survivors during the RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific) Exercises in June of 2000. All three have since gone on to the ages. I felt unworthy to stand in their presence and can only wish to measure up to their greatness... humble as they were.
I returned to Pearl Harbor in the autumn of 2000, and while there I decided to reenlist aboard the USS Arizona Memorial. When I arrived that morning and after spending ten minutes gazing at THE WALL (the names of those who died aboard her that day), I stood, arm raised and took the oath. I was so moved I could hardly speak, tears in my eyes and I was all choke up, but I did it and I did it memory of the men and women who went before us all--and especially because of those who served there that fateful day.
Today, USS Missouri sits barely the length of two football fields away from the USS Arizona Memorial. Think of it, two bookends of WWII reside so close together and they serve as a lesson attesting to the beginning and end of America's involvement in WWII... and to the courage of those young men and women who, in peacetime, served to defend our nation... not knowing that that day 73 years ago today, on that early Sunday morning, their lives would change forever and that they would be asked to do so much.
And our lives are so much the better for them.