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    Thursday, December 07, 2006

    Fifteen Years Ago Today...

    I have my own personal ideas of the whys and wherefores of that fateful day 65 years ago, but now is not the time for politics or theories. Now is the time for the remembrance of our honored dead. No matter why they died, they were brave soldiers who were standing firm to protect our country, and I honor each one.

    This article is shared with you via permission from the original author, Lilly, one of my best friends. Here is her memory she sent me via email today.


    Fifteen years ago today, I was standing in the front lobby of the Pacific Air Forces Head Quarters building, Hickam AFB, HI. With me stood two gentlemen. We had just finished walking around the memorial hall and looking at all the black and white photos that captured the history of the day. There were hangers in shambles, tar mats and flight lines with chunks blown out of them, buildings with smoke pouring out from the openings that had not been their the day before.

    One of the men told me about how he had been sitting in the dining hall (which was still running as a small cafĂ© in the building) eating his breakfast when the whole building began to shake. The other man had awoke to the building being hit. In the center of the hall was a vacuum-sealed glass case that displayed the 6x8 ft US flag that had flown that day. It was torn and there were holes in it, but the seams held tightly together. One of the men commented that it was just like our country…it took the blows and still held together. I watched as a single tear rolled down this man’s cheek and disappeared into the smile that lit up his face.

    I felt a sense of honor just being between them both. Their memories and pride filling the energies of that often solemnly quiet room. After they left, I never quite felt the same about that room, or the whole building. There were still several pockmarks on the outside of the building, the men that fixed it after the attack saw fit to leave just a slight reminder. You could not approach that building without seeing at least one.

    That building, that now housed the Head Quarters, was the barracks that morning. Some men were still asleep in their beds and never awoke. Some became trapped in a center hall as the floor above collapsed on them…that hall was sealed off and became their tomb, a small brass marker is there today. You can still walk down the halls of that building and hear, see and feel the residents of that barracks moving about.

    Later that afternoon, a handful of my friends and I took the short, quiet ride out to the Arizona Memorial with a ferry full of Veterans. There was a special feel to it that day, unlike the other times I had been out there. No one spoke a word, but we were all thinking and feeling the same thing. One of the Veterans pulled an old bugle out of his shoulder bag and started to play Taps. Every one there that day naturally came to a position of attention and saluted. On the way back to shore, one of the Veterans thanked the small group of us "young troops" that had gone out with them. He gave each of us a patch memorializing the 50th anniversary of the Bombing of Pearl Harbor.

    I still have that patch, packed away in a safe place, but its memories are fresh in my mind today. Fifteen years later, fewer of the Veterans that were there that day are with us. Each of them is precious to our country and holds a special place in my heart.

    Here’s a tear down the cheek, a vow of remembrance and a moment of silence honoring my fellow Veterans. As I promised them that day, I WILL NOT FORGET! Thank-You!

    Lillian M Meadows
    (Sgt Lillian M Thompson)
    Veteran of Desert Storm
    15th Security Police Squadron
    PACAF Elite Guard Unit
    Hickam AFB, HI


    Candace said...

    A tear runs down my cheek...

    God Bless Them All

    Debbie said...

    Thank you for posting this well written and touching tribute! May we all honor them in our hearts.

    Anonymous said...

    What use is it to never forget when that means never to forgive.
    And it is obvious
    that out actions have been to forget
    and to forgive.
    Both are essential to peace.

    Jeff said...

    You bring pride, honor, and beauty to all of this and life in general. I was able to see through your eyes for a breif moment of time. Thank you.

    Audrey said...

    What a lovely article and tribute to all who died on Pearl Harbor day. We should never forget their sacrifice.

    Lilidh d'Aine said...

    In answer to anonymous: My promise to never forget was made to the vets I met and talked to that day....I promised never to forget what had happened. Not the war...not the bloodshed...no blame for actions. Just to remember them, their friends, brothers....there were 37 sets of brothers that died on the USS Arizona...one set of parents lost all 3 of their children that day. I am a Mom...I could not bare that pain. Never forgetting their sacrifices is essential.

    Forgiving someone does not necessarily require forgetting. This was evident in 2 of the vets I talked to that day. One was American, the other was Japanese. The Japanese Vet was apologizing for bombing the harbor. He was one of the pilots that day that survived. The American Vet told him,"It is not for you or I to apologize. We were both soldiers, following orders. We did our jobs as was expected. There is no need to apologize for actions that were not your choice to make." They embraced in a warm hug, and went to read the wall of all the fallen brothers, arm in arm.

    A soldier is a man...a women...a brother...a sister...a son...a daughter...a father...a mother. A soldier is a person. And whether they die doing their job on the battlefield, in a burning fire, on a ship, on the street, or safely in their beds, They MUST be remembered and never forgotten.


    Ricky said...

    Thanks for sharing this memorial. And although many of us were not there that fateful day we shall never forget the great sacrifices made. And I for one am most grateful for what I have versus what I don't and to this day, I don't take much for granted. I honor all those who had died for us.

    nikki P. said...

    Thank you for sharing such a special moment. I too was able to see it through your eyes. My grandfather was in World War II; a tailgunner, and a prisoner of war for 18 months. He was never able to talk about his experience. Thank you for honoring him as well as so many others.

    Dawne said...

    Thank You for sharing this. To see the future, we need to remember the past.