In the midst of paradise sits an area that still bears the scars of an attack that happened sixty nine years ago.
If you know where to look or are lucky enough to have a good guide (and I'm not talking about the kind of guide that wears a parks uniform) you can still see bomb craters, and bullet holes.
But that's not what this is about. This is about these men:
Men who lost their lives while serving their country, and all of those throughout the ages who didn't get an elegant memorial with their names engraved in marble. The soldiers of our country who fight and die even today to protect our way of life. Whether you agree with the orders or not, they follow them. They hold their heads high and rightfully so.
There's an eerie sense, approaching the memorial. Not as if the ghosts of sailors still hang around, but more as if the reverence of everyone who has gone before you has left a residue. The white shape against the blue water is a stark image, with our flag flying above the fallen.
The entrance feels like you're walking into an ancient temple. A place where the gods and the spirits of the dead just might communicate with those of us here on earth.
I won't post pictures looking down into the water. It's something that should be seen in person. The slick of leaked oil throwing rainbow colors across the surface of the water, appropriately called Tears of The Arizona. The fish gliding above the deteriorating, encrusted metal. For me, there's a sense of sorrow, grief for men I never knew.
Mom's great-uncle was one of the men lost on the Arizona. He lies somewhere beneath the surface, along with the shipmates he died with, and a few who, having survived the attack, chose later to be interred with their brothers.
Everyone knows the Arizona is still there. Not as many realize that the USS Utah still sits just off Ford Island. Unlike the Arizona, the Utah was rolled to one side of the channel, to allow her sister ships to come and go.
Her memorial may not be as famous, nor as well-traveled, but it is no less important. If you get the chance, visit her, and pay your respects. Utah's memorial is less overrun, more peaceful. It holds the same sense of reverence, however, and perhaps a touch more melancholy.
I'm grateful that I have had the chance to visit these places. I hope my nephews do, as well as any children I might have. It's a place to give honor and acknowledge sacrifice, for the men who died there, who rest there, and for the men and woman who fell elsewhere, at other times.
Throughout the history of our country brave men and women have fought and died for the things they believed in. For those of us at home, so that we may not have to face the things that they do.
Never forget that. Never forget them, or forsake those who are facing the possibility of joining their ranks even today.