Thursday, December 8, 2011
"The Start of the Greatest Generation"
Words cannot adequately describe how truly amazing this experience has been, especially today, December 7, 2011. Seventy years ago, on that “infamous” Sunday morning, the Japanese forever changed the lives of our five veterans. It has been an honor and a privilege to listen and relive their stories, such as when Clarence Pfundheller, so focused on shooting down Japanese Zeros and protecting his ship, that he was unaware of the tragedy that befell the Arizona, only a few ships away. Or another hero, Parke Piper, who was worried about the fate of his brother Guy, stationed at Pearl Harbor on that tragic day. In a touching story by Guy Parker, he recalled watching the first wave of Japanese planes flying over Ford Island from his barracks, which was in prefect view of Battleship Row, and feeling helpless. These were the experiences that would transform these brave men’s lives forever. This was a time when patriotism soared and men were possessed with a passion of joining the fight and serving their country.
Today, during the Pearl Harbor 70th anniversary ceremony, the brave men and women who suffered that horrific attack, were honored by F-22 Raptor fly-bys, a Destroyer class navy ship pass by review, a 21 gun salute, and a walk of fame, which was one of the most touch events of my life. I was privileged, along with Heather Isringhausen, to escort Mr. Pfundheller through the Walk of Fame. Over 200 perfectly aligned military service men and women, from a Navy Seaman to an Army Major General showed their respect by saluting the WWII survivors. This moment was absolutely perfect for these brave souls who risked and sacrificed so much so many years ago.
Just as millions of Americans will never forget December 7, 1941, I will never forget today. We visited sites such as where the first Japanese rounds stuck Oahu on a now abandoned airfield, but one that played a vital role in the war in the Pacific 70 years ago. Or visiting the USS Utah, still lying on its side since that fateful day. I have been truly blessed by being able to be apart of this whole experience and extremely thankful to the veterans of WWII and College of the Ozarks for allowing me to relive history and honor these men by retelling their stories so that we never forget.