Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day: A Day to Remember Those Who Served

On Memorial Day, I think about and remember my grandpa, Todd Wikle.  He was a great fisherman, tied his own flies, farmed, was a county health inspector, an excellent woodworker who made the beds we all slept in for many years.  I still have the bed he made for himself and Grandma.  Grandpa Todd was pretty much a Jack of all trades and mastered each one.  He was a quiet man, but he loved us much.  He was also a WWII veteran.  An infantry captain, Grandpa served most of his war time in the Philippines.  During that time, his battalion was lost for weeks in the jungle.  He went in weighing 160 pounds and carrying a sub-machine gun.  He came out weighing only 90 pounds.  His accuracy with his gun earned him a place as a sniper protecting General Douglas MacArthur when he made his famous return.

As like most vets, Grandpa didn't talk much about the war.  We lost him to ALS, a terrible disease that first took away his ability to use his hands, which were his gifts in so many ways.  The day he died, October 6, 1989, he was sitting in his chair watching his beloved Cubs win against the San Fransisco Giants to tie up the NLCS.  Grandma said that right after the Cubs won,  she heard him say, "Those are my boys." Then he passed.  He must have known that would be the only game they would win in that post season attempt to get into the World Series.  We always laugh about that.

I had Grandpa Todd, along with my Uncle Floyd, in my heart as we visited Pearl Harbor a few years ago.  What a huge piece of history rests in that harbor.  Let me show you.



Pearl Harbor is the area that looks like a triangle in the upper third of this picture.




It was eerie to hear planes flying overhead while at Pearl.  It was even eerie flying into Honolulu.  While we didn't take the route of the Japanese, I still had thoughts, "This is what they saw that horrible day."


As we walked around the area taking in all the historical memorabilia and listening to excerpts from veterans of that day, my eyes were always drawn to the Arizona Memorial.




The white bar shape shows you where the memorial is as it hovers over the Arizona.  The other two markers are where other battleships rest after being destroyed.


They say that the Arizona still sends out oil, and there is that sheen to the water.









Included in our tour of Pearl Harbor was a visit to the USS Missouri, or Mighty Mo, as she is also known.  This ship has been refurbished and used throughout our country's many battles up through Desert Storm.  After 50 years at sea, she was officially retired.  These guns have seen much action, but maybe the most recently memorable moment was when Cher stood in front of them singing, "If I Could Turn Back Time."






The famous spot where WW II ended with Japan's signing of the surrender agreement.


If you look closely, you can see that the officer representing Canada signed on the wrong spot.  The story goes they could not get the highest ranking Canadian officer, so this man filled in, and he was so nervous that he signed on the wrong line.




Our last stop was a place called The Punch Bowl.


This is the National Cemetery for many of those lost at Pearl and a few other famous soldiers.  They are replacing the grass in this section.




Here rests our very own Hoosier hero, Ernie Pyle.



These huge sprawling trees were so captivating.

Thanks to Grandpa and all those who served that day and in the wars before during and after to protect our freedoms.  Pearl Harbor is a place everyone should visit at least once in a lifetime.

On this Memorial Day, please take the time to remember those who served so we can freely live today.

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