... A date which will live
~ President F. D. Roosevelt
At this writing, I'm in the United Club~ Honolulu. At this reading, however, it's the eve of the 72nd anniversary of the "date which will live in infamy"-- December 7, 1941.
This morning, December 4, 2013, my honey parked the rental car here on O'ahu, Hawai'i while I went into Anna Miller's Restaurant to secure a breakfast table. Moments after I was seated, up the stairs walked this gentleman.
My jaw dropped to see the words "Pearl Harbor Survivor" embroidered on his commemorative side cap.
No sooner had my sweetie walked up the steps and through the door to join me inside that I intercepted him, leading him back outside to the waiting area where Mr. Killeen had sat, waiting for his son to park the car.
"I'm pleased to see you, sir," I began, extending my hand. "My husband and I want to thank you for your service to our country."
"Well, it was my honor," World War II veteran Edward Killeen replied. Awestruck, my WW II-buff husband shook Mr. Killeen's hand and sat down on the bench next to him.
The questions and answers began. Mr. Killeen told of being in the USS Tennessee's crow's nest early that morning, December 7, 1941, when "PING PING PING, metal hitting metal, you know. What is going on? When we realized we were being attacked by the Japanese, I was commanded to sound the bugle and wake-up two thousand men sleeping below."
My hubby hadn't seen the rest of the Killeen senior's outfit this morning-- an embroidered aloha shirt Mr. Killeen's son had specially made for his father. Reading the shirt, my husband was floored again.
"It was a miracle I survived," Mr. Killeen had said. Miracle, indeed. This man had survived not only the bombing of Pearl Harbor, but also the Battle of the Coral Sea, was a bazooka man on Saipan Island and was one of the proud US Marines on Iwo Jima. (My father and brother are US Marines.) No wonder Junior Killeen was so proud of his father.
Before we all moved toward our own tables inside Anna Miller's, Mr. Killeen's son handed his father one of these cards which apparently he'd pre-printed for his dad. He was even prepared with the Sharpie he pulled from his pocket, removed the cap and asked him to use it to sign the card for us. The veteran deserves a proud son like that.
I can't count the number of self-inflicted bruises from kicking myself because I failed to capture images of my hubby talking to WW II vets he's been honored to meet. No bruises today.
All is calm, all is bright in my American world because of men and women like Edward Killeen, USMC, Pearl Harbor survivor, Purple Heart recipient. We owe selfless citizens like him a deep debt of gratitude. May I never, ever forget.
of those who lost their lives
December 7, 1941
And of those
who've given their lives since
for my freedom.
Freedom is never free.