Yesterday was December 7th. A lot of people had posts on their blogs about Pearl Harbor. The posts that I read all had great meaning to me and, I'm sure, to others. A few brought tears, and others gave me moments of reflection and thought.
As the years go by, we lose more and more of the greatest generation. We seem to lose a bit of ourselves also. I took myself to lunch yesterday. On the way to Denny's I only saw two houses that had flags out. It is a shame. Our kids are the ones who will suffer the most. We cannot forget, should never forget, and neither should future generations.
A nation is no stronger than its people. This nation of ours needs to take back what is right, and stand as we have in the past. It is our right and our duty to bring this country back to its rightful place on this planet.
As I was setting at Denny's waiting for my lunch, two older gentleman came in. One was using a cane, and he held the door for his friend, who was using a walker. They both were wearing nice suits and wore hats. Veteran's hats. One was from a VFW hall, the other wore a hat that had "Pearl Harbor Survivor" stitched on the side. I was lucky enough that they were seated at a table next to the booth I was in.
They sat and ordered some coffee. They had both been to some ceremony here in town for Pearl Harbor Day. They saw me looking at them and they both smiled, and kind of nodded their heads at me, like guys just seem to do.
My lunch arrived. . . a burger, fries, and a Coke. As I was eating, I caught some of their conversation. They were talking about the morning's events that they had been to. One made a comment about how there were not a lot of people that showed. The other said that he was in agreement.
I couldn't be quiet. I got their attention and asked them how they were doing today. They both seemed sort of surprised, and they smiled and said that they were doing pretty good. The one with the VFW hat asked me my name. That seemed to kind of open up a door. We talked of every day things and they ate their lunch. I ordered another Coke.
The gentleman in the Pear Harbor hat said that he could remember the first Coke he had ever had. And I asked him when that was.
He said that his very first Coke was when he was about 12 or so. He laughed and said he was hooked on Coke ever since. But since Pearl Harbor, he wouldn't drink Coke or pop of any kind. I asked him why. He got a teary-eyed look and said that he and a buddy had gone to get some Coke when, while picking up a case or two, the attack began.
They never made it back to their ship, The Arizona. So to this day, he would not drink any kind of pop. But he smiled and said that he could still remember how they tasted.
The other gentleman kind of smiled, and patted his friend's shoulder. He looked at me and said that he couldn't drink pop also, but for medical reasons. As we kept talking, I found out that the gentleman in the VFW hat had been in the Marines.
Course, you know -- once a Marine, always a Marine. He had been at the canal and was in the second wave to hit the beach. I didn't ask for details, and he didn't offer. You could see in their eyes that they were thinking of that part of their lives all over again.
After that, with all of us kind of tearing up, I told them of the death of my nephew a couple years ago. (For those of you who are new here, he was killed by sniper fire in Afghanistan.)
We sat there and talked of other things, they drank their coffee and me with ice tea by that time. It was like setting with your granddads and with real life heroes at the same time. They seemed to light up and come alive as our talks went on. The more they talked, the more I wanted to listen and learn about them, their families, their loves and losses. I took notice that others were also following our talk.
As some people got up to pay their bills and leave, they stopped long enough to thank them for their service. Both of them turned red in the face and, with bowed heads, said thank you. There are some out there who remember to thank our soldiers, past and present. It would have been nice if all of them could have thanked these two gentleman.
As we finished up, they each shook my hand. I couldn't help myself: with tears in my eyes I gave them each a hug and thanked them for their service, told them that they were in my prayers. They both stood as straight as they could and thanked me for my nephew's service, and for taking the time to spend with them.
As we made our way to pay our bills, I told the cashier that I was paying for these gentleman also. They started to fuss some. I told them that it was the least I could do, for they had done so much.
You know? I never did ask them what their names were! Names didn't seem important at the time. It felt like we kind of knew each other or had a bond.
It is men and women like this whom we need to remember and cherish.
Let us not forget those who have gone before us. It is because of them that we have what we have. What we have is still well worth fighting and dying for, if necessary.