There are no words to describe the solemn peacefulness I felt upon visiting the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor yesterday. It was an unexpected culmination of both pride and guilt, as I walked around the various monuments set neatly along the water.
Guilt that everything was so eerily identical to everything going on in the world now, and that I have done so little about it. Guilt that these heroic men and women have died for the freedom which I so casually enjoy; and yet pride at the same time, to be fulfilling the legacy of everything for which they fought.
Pride, more specifically, in my family – in my grandfather, my father, my uncles, my cousins, and now my younger brother, who have sacrificed so much for this nation. I am humbled by their courage, and honored to have them in my life.
Everything was just as I’ve always envisioned it, vibrant and green and tranquil; walking along by the water, I was able to imagine exactly what that December 7th must have felt like, over seventy years ago.
We wandered through the museum, marveling at fragments of history embalmed and set reverently behind glass for posterity.
…Also, they had these really neat models of battleships and carriers, so I snagged a few photos of them, just for fun.
The museum was beautiful and haunting, but the reality of Pearl Harbor truly set in as we embarked on the boat which took us over to that aquatic mausoleum. Here so many heroes were truly resting in peace, submerged forever in a maritime sanctuary.
Looking down into the water from inside the building, the tragic event I studied in every American history course came to life in such a surreal way.
I’ve never experienced anything quite as tangible. This was history, this quiet vessel which lay tranquilly at rest beneath the surface. The remains of the casualties trapped inside were given names, identities, faces – human qualities which made their sacrifice that much more significant.
But the most stirring thing about the entire experience was watching the way oil seeped quietly out of the crevices of the ship, up to the surface, and then dispersed gracefully atop the water. This, the life blood of the ship, still seventy years later runs steadily through its veins. And, as from a wound which never completely heals, it leaks from the rust, mimicking vitality, and thus immortalizing the memory of its tragedy.
We will always remember.