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Paying tribute to Pearl Harbor heroes
A professor and Navy Reserve lieutenant pays tribute to his grandfather, and to the sailors and Marines who served in Pearl Harbor
"... Despite the remoteness of seven decades, Pearl Harbor is, for me, an intimately personal place. On the day of the attack, my grandfather had been in the Navy for nearly nine years. He was part of the "old Navy," the $21-a-month professionals who stood watch through the Depression and who still formed the bulk of the Navy on Dec. 7. His ship was not in port that day, instead desperately attempting to deliver a deckload of Marine scout planes to Midway. It was only through the fickle but most providential favor of Neptune and Mars that his ship was at sea.
"His time would come. Six months and a day later, he would find himself on the bright, burning deck of a dying carrier in the Coral Sea. Battered and beleaguered, he would survive, earn an officer's commission and retire from the Navy 14 years later, going on to a magnificent second act as a gentleman farmer and grandfather. But he never forgot the tragedy of that December day. For while to most of us the dead of Pearl Harbor are nothing more than marble-carved names or sepia-tinged photos, for him they were living, breathing men, eternally young in his memories. They were always with him. That sense of loss cannot be understated.
“ … I am an officer now myself, proud to wear the same uniform my grandfather and parents once wore. I stand at the Arizona, finding that I weep for her crew not through the distance of time, but through the closeness of our shared profession. I mourn neither in anger nor anguish, but in pride in counting myself among those who have followed them to sea. We are sailors of the United States Navy.”
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