Getting in touch with the power that drives the Universe...
On July 21st, 1969, I was on board the U.S.S. New Jersey battleship leaving Pearl Harbor during a mid-summer training cruise for midshipmen from several American universities. We were back from Vietnam duty but away from our families. The previous day, July 20th, I had been in Kauai with my brother Craig, sister-in-law Sally and their baby boy Matt. On their tiny 12" TV we had watched the first moon landing in black and white; it was maybe the greatest day ever to be an American.
Leaving Pearl harbor, we were towed out into the main channel by tugs, only to be stopped dead in the water. We, the only battleship to see duty in Vietnam, rendered a 21 gun salute to our predecessor, the U.S.S. Arizona. The Arizona is mostly submerged and rusting away, having been sunk by the surprise Japanese attack on December 7th 1941. That day changed the lives of the generations before me and was a prelude to some of the greatest historical events of my own. Arizona is now a national treasure and memorial for the 1,008 men who died on board her.
Destiny placed me on the port rail that day in full view of the Arizona's hull. As we rendered honors to that great ship and her valiant crew, I couldn't help but see the huge irony of being a living sailor paying tribute to dead sailors who were just like me. Why was I alive and looking down into the watery tomb of these young men? Did I appreciate their sacrifice that made it possible to serve in a free country's navy? Was I worthy of the ultimate sacrifice they paid for my happiness and security?
Every December 7th I think of that day and that experience. I am so thankful for all that this country has provided for me. I won't ever forget the men of the Arizona and their sacrifice. They made a difference. I thought you should know about their valor.