Absence

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I haven’t posted much here since Easter for a couple of reasons. First, during the last two weeks of April and first two weeks of May my work schedule seemed unusually hectic, although the reality is, it probably wasn’t that bad. Yet, for some reason it just seemed to sap all energy and occupy every waking moment. Then, last week, we were able to sneak off to Hawaii for a too-long postponed vacation. This was really our first “pack the bags and get on an airplane” vacation since we moved to Colorado in 1999. We need to do that more often, I really needed the break.

It had been many years since I had been to the islands and much has changed. In 1979 we visited Hanauma Bay and enjoyed an hour or more alone on the deserted beach and had a chance to wade among thousands of tropical fish who seemed curious about the strange visitors to their world. This time, well, it was anything but solitary. There are now concrete parking lots, complete with toll booths to greet visitors rather than a small, almost makeshift gravel lot directly overlooking the bay.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge development. I sometimes wonder, though, if in our effort to tame nature we don’t over do it. We try to make every natural wonder easily accessible thereby removing the mystery and beauty of creation. We were indeed put on this earth to “. . .have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” I don’t think that means that we should trample the very life out of “all the earth” and turn it into some sort of giant amusement park. It might be good for more of us to meet creation as it was intended to be.

I digress.

One of the things I hoped to do on this trip was visit the USS Arizona Memorial. Obviously there was a multitude of feelings associated with the visit. To be honest, it’s hard to grasp the magnitude of the loss that occurred on that Sunday morning in December, 1941. Seeing the rusting hulk of the Arizona under your feet, and realizing that some 1,100 sailors are entombed there is sobering, to say the least. To see the oil slick still oozing from the ship is haunting. Something I hadn’t expected, but which gave the visit a greater impact, is that you can smell the oil as it comes to the surface. That additional sensory experience seemed to make the loss all the more real.

I had read a good deal about the attack at Pearl Harbor; seeing the actual site and gaining a first hand understanding of the geography put the whole thing in perspective. To be honest, the attack was a masterpiece of planning on the part of the Japanese. There were two rows of battleships neatly moored next for Ford Island in the Harbor that morning, and the distance to the shore is relatively short. It seems almost impossible to see how a torpedo could be dropped from an airplane coming in over the harbor and have enough room to run into a ship. Of course, most of the damage was done by the armor piercing bombs the Japanese developed for the attack; it was one of those that sunk Arizona.

I was able to spend a few minutes talking to a survivor of the attack, an 86 year old man who had been assigned to a supply warehouse located at the mouth of the harbor. It was interesting to hear his impression of the experience. I could understand when he said that, although the attack was intense, and surely frightening, it was over so fast that it seemed insignificant compared to the long hard battle fought over the next four years. I believe the sailor said he served on the USS Washington for most of the war and that ship certainly saw plenty of action, especially at Guadalcanal and off Okinawa. It’s true too, that during the attack, he likely would have been following procedures as far a reporting, or trying to report to his battle station and possibly helping participate in some sort of response – he would have been focused on doing his job which likely must have made the time go much faster.

I have included a couple of pictures from the visit to the Memorial below.

The rest of the trip was mainly sightseeing and rest and relaxation. As wonderful as the trip was, I think we were both happy to get home and get back into the normal routine. Next up, some weekend trips around Colorado.


The Missouri and the Arizona Memorial -- the beginning and end of World War II.

Big Mo and Arizona.jpg

The "Black Tears" of the USS Arizona

Black Tears.jpg

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This page contains a single entry by Ron Moffat published on May 27, 2006 8:59 AM.

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