Friday, December 9, 2011

"Vessel of Death"

I don’t know how to start my blog entry. There have been so many amazing things I have seen with men who have so much to offer that I am truly at a loss for words. And I am faced with the task of attempting to express these life-changing experiences with words.

Attempt number one.

This morning, we visited the USS Arizona Memorial. The whole time we were there I couldn’t help picturing the events that took place on December 7th, 1941. I looked at the remains of the ship, just lying there, empty, cold, and dead. I was looking at a massive vessel of death. Undoubtedly, many come to the Memorial to honor the 1177 men entombed below, and rightfully so. But we were there to honor Heather Isringhausen’s great uncle, Lloyd Bryant, who was aboard the Arizona 70 years ago. Our tour guide made special arrangements for our group to be alone on the Memorial. It was such a privilege to witness and be a part of such an intimate moment, observing a moment of silence and dropping flowers into the water below. I prayed for the men and women who survived the attack on Pearl Harbor, for them to be comforted and to remember that it is God’s hands that hold the breathe of all mankind. And I prayed for the fallen. As I watched my flower float away, I was lost in the reenactment in my mind. I would like to think that things really didn’t happen the way that I picture, but with the help of our veterans, I understand that war is not a love story as depicted in the movie Pearl Harbor, but battles where men fight and die. As we left, I remembered Exodus 3:11 “God has made everything beautiful in it’s time.”

Attempt number two.

Guy Piper, my veteran, is still in Hawaii as I write 35,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean, on my way to Okinawa. No, we didn’t forget him at a gas station. Following the 70th commemoration events at Pearl Harbor, our nurse, Diane Smith, thought it best to have Mr. Piper checked by the VA medical staff before we continued our long journey. The Navy doctors believed it was in Mr. Piper’s best interest to remain in Hawaii, resting for another day, before returning home to Springfield. When they told me that my veteran would not be continuing the trip with us, I was devastated. This gentle man, Guy H. Piper, Pearl Harbor survivor, I have grown to love in just four days because we have shared so many precious moments together. I can’t even begin to describe how much I am going to miss his loving blue eyes.

Kaytlyn Vandeloecht

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