Friday, December 7, 2007

Sixty-Six Years On

I've never, yet, had the opportunity to visit the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. I've spoken with the no-longer-young men who were on Arizona before it was part of the remembrance of December 7, 1941. There are so many memorials to those who sacrificed so much in so many wars, I sometimes forget that consciously, and perhaps unconsciously as well, those who fought and died (on all sides) helped shape who we are now, and how it is I am free to sit here and type semi-vacantly into the ether.

I'm told men and women will fight for their country, but will only die for one another, which is an act of such remarkable, selfless, love that it should require of all of us whose lives are made possible (and maybe a little too comfortable) by this act of sacrifice to live lives that truly matter.

As a kid, reading the accounts, I was struck by the ferocity of the attacks at Pearl Harbor. It was years later as a young adult that I first read of those who survived the attacks but who were hopelessly and helplessly trapped in the hulls of destroyed or partially-sunken vessels. I've read reports of survivors lost in twisted masses of metal who tapped, persistently and steadily in absolute and total darkness and probable terror, for days, hoping those 'outside' would find and free them.

I cannot imagine having that kind of courage. Instead, I've allowed my petty concerns and problems to absorb my attention. I've learned to flinch, as Warren Zevon used to sing, and to spend my waking hours fearing footfalls that never come from those whom I'll never know. Instead of living life out loud, I've elevated 'playing it safe' to an art form without ever considering how those who made the hard choices that brought me here might feel about what I've made of the gift they've given me. Unless and until we start to repay the debt of unselfish sacrifice that is the foundation of our world, we'll never be able to build anything of our own to give to our children and their children. Six decades or sixty decades will be as the blink of an eye for those who refuse to see.
-bill kenny

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