Photos open the doors of my mind and trigger the same emotional response that occurred when the picture was taken.
Revisiting old photo albums brings the past to the forefront.
Today is December 7th. Pearl Harbor Day.
On this day in 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked.
I was not alive when this happened. Therefore, I cannot even pretend to imagine what it was like or the impact it had on the brave men and women who were.
I rely on the images and news audio and history books to give me a sense of what happened.
As a child, I had very little appreciation for the sacrifice of military service. I read about it and learned enough to pass to the next grade of school.
History was a class that had to be taken….nothing else.
Until nothing else turned into something that required my respect and gratitude.
In 1982, I was 13 years old. My life consisted of school, friends and soccer.
My devotion to the sport of soccer earned me selection on a number of “all star” teams that would travel to play in selected tournaments around the country. The biggest of which occurred in Hawaii.
Our team would represent the state of Texas. We raised all the money ourselves and took great pride in our accomplishments.
If I remember right, our bragging about it got quite annoying to everyone else.
13 years old….everyone was annoying at 13.
10 days in paradise. We got 3rd place.
I honestly don’t remember any of the games or much of the paradise part.
What I do remember is the visit to the Pearl Harbor Memorial.
I remember going and thinking how cool it was gonna be to see war ships and cannons and guns and stuff.
I remember being there……
And it wasn’t cool.
It was sad and humbling.
At 13, I didn’t even know what being humbled was.
But I know now, at 44, that that was exactly what I felt.
I remember standing on the memorial that is over the USS Arizona, listening to the tour guide tell us that over 1100 servicemen went down with the ship and were never recovered.
They are the memorial.
I remember the tour moving on…but I couldn’t.
I was looking over the edge into the water at the ship and thinking…
“They are still down there….they never got to say goodbye…”
I remember I started to cry….and I remember giving a salute to them over the edge….and then slowly catching up to the rest of the tour group and listening more intently to a history lesson than I ever have before or since.
I learned then…as I still know now that freedom is not free.
To all those who have served and to those who continue to serve to preserve my rights as an American citizen….
I once again salute you.
And say thanks.