Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Yesterday, the not-actually-a-colonel fullfilled a lifelong dream.

He and the Blond visited Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial.

The USS Stennis, a Nimitz-class supercarrier, was also in port, directly across from the memorial. I cannot begin to describe how awesome one of those vessels is when viewed up close.

But the ship itself was secondary to what we witnessed from her crew this sunny, Sunday morning.

As we ferried across the bay, we looked up at the deck of this incredible, imposing warship.

Every available space around the rail was occupied by a sailor, standing at attention, paying respect to the fallen heroes who had gone before them.

We will never forget the sight, or the feelings that it stirred within us.

As we entered the memorial, we noticed a man, still gazing across the bay at the carrier, perhaps looking even more moved than the rest of us. He looked at me.

"I didn't expect them to be in port today," he said, "They weren't due in until tomorrow."

Then he explained. "My son is on that ship."

"Really! What's his name? What does he do?"

"Travis Lang. Ops Specialist. He's in the tower right now."

The man explained how special it was that the day he visited the memorial, his son, of whom he was so proud, was right there as well."

After thanking the man for his family's service, shooting a quick pic, and exchanging a few more pleasantries, we felt it was time to move on in the memorial.

"Have a good day," we said.

"It already has been." The soft tears in his eyes said it all.

Later, we had the privilege of meeting Everett Hyland, US Navy ret. Mr. Hyland was a radioman, 3rd class, stationed on the USS Pennsylvania, on December 7, 1941. He was on the deck of the drydocked ship, working on an antenna when the bombing commenced. He was severely wounded, and spent nine months in the hospital. (He has since had dinner with the Japanese pilot who dropped the bomb that wounded him. Everett's hat has a small pin depicting the American and Japanese flags intertwined. "He was just a young man doing his job," Hyland says.)

From the beautiful Sunday weather, not so unlike that fateful Sunday morning over 71 years ago, through the spectacular sight of a Hornet-laden supercarrier with 6000 service men and women paying their respects, to the opportunity to simply reflect on the enormity of sacrifice, and the actual, non-sanitized horrors of war, it was a humbling, transformative, and completely inspiring day.  As the Audio tour concluded, and Taps played solemnly through the headphones, the Colonel-in-pen-name-only stood, looking one final time across the blue-green waters of Pearl Harbor.  Uncharacteristically, he had nothing to say.  He shed a tear, kept quiet, and paid his respects.

No jokes today, friends. Just solemn contemplation, remembrance, and heartfelt appreciation.

Next Post: The Colonel attempts to SURF!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "Colonel" expressed the experience accurately and beautifully.

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