Archive for the ‘Memorial Day’ Tag

Pearl Harbor – USS Arizona Memorial – a shrine to lives lost during the attack, Dec. 7, 1941

While on a recent trip to Hawaii we visited the memorial site of the USS Arizona battleship, bombed and sunk off the coast of Honolulu, December 7,  1941. It lay entombed in the bottom of the sea along with other sunken ships when the harbor came under a surprise attack early that Sunday morning by the Japanese, and our country entered the war, historically known as World War II. The memorial site is a very solemn, subdued place of quiet reflection. We took the boat over to the memorial site of the USS Arizona and wondered what it was like to live through that time as a U.S. soldier or sailor called up to serve in a war that nearly destroyed all of our Pacific fleet, one that spread for miles off the coast of Honolulu, Hawaii. As our boat drew closer to the site of the memorial we could see a film of oil that never dissipates, but settles in a pool at the top of the gun turret. There were over 1,000 men alone who lost their lives on the Arizona battleship. Below are pictures of the ship, the memorial site and the marble wall with all the engraved names of the lost that went down with the Arizona.

The memorial to the USS Arizona battleship as seen from the shoreline.

A portion of the USS Arizona battleship seen above the waterline, believed to be the gun turret. The remainder of the ship sits below the waterline, still in tact. It remains that way more than 70 years after the attack, a shrine to all those lost.

The marble wall inside the memorial with over 1,000 names of all the men lost on the sinking of the battleship, USS Arizona.

 

There are few survivors of World War II left to tell their stories. Most are now gone. But, their stories are documented, captured on film and video, told and retold to the many visitors to Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii. They are written into the pages of history like the lives lost that experienced the horror.

If you are a military veteran or serving in the military now, or a family member of one I hope your Memorial Day holiday will be blessed, and that you will have family and friends to celebrate it with you. Thank you for your service. We will never forget and can never repay you for what you have done in the service of your/our country.

As we are perhaps in maybe the greatest of all battles of historic times, to win the fight against radicalized Islamic terrorists, and those who want to destroy us with their terror and carnage we can only pray and continue on with the fight, to eradicate the evil that conspires to destroy all that we have, and are about and hope for a better tomorrow, and a better world, that one day we will all live in peace and harmony together, without fear.

Happy Memorial Day to you and yours.

_______________

Joyce E. Johnson (2017)

Footnotes: For more information on the USS Arizona memorial you can find it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Arizona_Memorial

Remembering our military on Memorial Day

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As we walked around the cemetery last Saturday, and saw all the tiny American flags sticking up from the ground around the graves of those who fought in past wars, I wondered about the stories of all those we’ll never know anything about. Only their surviving family members can provide details to the lives lost, and sacrificed for our freedom.

We read and hear of those whose sacrifice and heroic efforts changed the course of history for our country, but there are thousands more stories we’ll never know, or the men and women who fought bravely for our country on our shores, off the shores and outside our borders. It is often only the grave marker, or sadly for some a name on a KIA (killed in action), or MIA (missing in action) list filed on records and documents in the archives of history.

The picture above is just one I took at random of a World War II soldier’s grave while we were there to view the gravesite of my parents buried nearby. I had been trying out a new cell phone camera so did not get a very good image of this soldier’s grave, but it is not the image that I cared so much about, but what he had done and his contributing effort to the cause of freedom and democracy for our country.

If you are in the military, a veteran of the U.S. armed services, or even in the military of another country or army your service does not go unnoticed, but is forever appreciated to all those whom you fought to protect, and the country you served.

Thank you for your service, and God bless you on this Memorial Day.

_______________

Joyce E. Johnson (2016)

 

Posted May 30, 2016 by Joyce in My Photos, My Writings

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Remembering our veterans who fought for our freedom

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Three Vietnam Veterans who fought and served during the war

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Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall, Fort Collins, Colorado, May 24, 2013

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Huey helicopter used during Vietnam War for combat missions and for transporting troops to and from battle zones

Last Friday my husband and I viewed the traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall with the 58, 261 names on it of soldiers who died in one of the longest and least understood wars of our country. The traveling wall is 80 %  the original size of the one in Washington, DC and the largest one made for the sole purpose of being transported and set up at cities around the country so it can be viewed on Memorial Day.  Fort Collins, a city seven miles north of mine in Northern Colorado was happy to  host the traveling wall for this particular Memorial Day. It is provided and set up by the American Veterans Tribute organization based in Flint, Tx. With this display came some other things not often seen by the public, yet just as impressive. One was the Huey helicopter used in combat missions and for transporting troops to and from the battle zones during the war between 1965-1975.  My husband, Wayne and I were eighteen in 1965 when the draft was implemented and men were called up to serve. Unless one was enrolled in a four-year college, physically disabled, or married with children there was little chance of being exempt from serving. My husband was placed in the exempt status because he was enrolled in a seminary in 1966-1970 and was required to achieve and retain a 3.5 GPA while in school. We were married in 1966 and he remained in the exempt status throughout school and after. Other friends and classmates were not as fortunate and were drafted and sent into the war. The U.S. was pulled into the war to help the South Vietnamese retain their democratic hold over the fight with the North Vietnamese Communist regime and the Viet Cong. But, the war was lost for the South Vietnamese with the NVA (North Vietnamese Army) conquering all, moving in and gaining control on April 30, 1975. It was a war that was unpopular to begin with and caused such political conflict within congress and the current presidential administrations that when the war was over and our surviving soldiers and nurses came home, many were treated with disdain and left destitute while trying to find a job and start over and many more left with disabling injuries for the rest of their lives.

In 1998 when Wayne and I vacationed on the east coast and visited the war memorial sites in Washington, DC, we saw the original beautiful granite wall memorial there. It is one of the most moving ones I have ever seen. Once again, this time while viewing the traveling wall it was a very solemn and emotional time as names were read, taps played, one playing the bagpipes while marching slowly before the wall, and the 21 gun salute heard, the service ending with a prayer from a chaplain. This Memorial Day tribute with included photos here is to honor those vets who served and fought, and for those who died in this war.

___________________________

Joyce E. Johnson

Pulling it all together: One Memorial Day


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Pulling it all together: One Memorial Day

    Memorial Day is the weekend that kicks off the summer season, when people plan vacations, camping trips, and time with family and friends.

    I have numerous memories of good times with my family while on vacations and holidays, some better than others.

    There is one particular memory of a Memorial Day weekend many years ago while up on our four-acre mountain property at Glacier View Meadows. We went up to enjoy the holiday camping out, cooking our meals over the open fire, all the things that make a great campout. Our youngest daughter was twelve then, and invited a girlfriend along. Our tent was erected, our campsite organized, things unpacked. We had a good fire going roasting our hotdogs and marshmallows under the moonlight. It all started good.

“Ah… This is nice.” My husband said, stoking the fire, stuffing marshmallows into his mouth. I agreed.

A few hours later when we were ready to turn in and put out the fire it turned colder and dark clouds moved in. The wind picked up and a storm came through.

   Hunkering down in our tent, we waited and listened as the rain came and the storm blew, pelting our tent, soaking the ground. It was not long before the heavy rain was seeping in getting our sleeping bags wet.

   I never slept. But, the girls did. How, I did not know. I worried that our tent would float away, or slide downhill on the muddy terrain. The rain continued through the night and into the morning. Dawn came with more gray clouds, more rain, but no sun.

   Sloshing through the mud my husband said, “Guess we won’t be cooking breakfast over the fire grate.” Scratch the camp fire, too.” He stood in the downpour, looking up as if hoping to see the sun appear behind a cloud. “I’ll set up the propane stove in the shed and light the lantern. We’ll cook our breakfast in the shed.”

   “Whoopee!” I said. I needed coffee, strong and hot, a lot of it.

   We ran to our storage shed to get out of the rain, and hoped it would not float away. But, it was solid and sound, and provided good cover. Our shed though stout and sturdy was built on a gentle slope, with a bit of a slant to one side. It was a building project of my husband’s which he insists was leveled at the time of construction.

   Our situation made me think about the Bible story of Noah and the Arc. Noah was prepared for the flood. We were not prepared for anything, not even the rain. Noah’s wife must have had a lot of patience. I did not. They were together on that arc for forty days and nights. I could not remain up on our lot for even four days before missing my home.

    We scrambled our resources, food and cooking utensils. My husband lit the lantern and started the two burner propane stove. I cooked breakfast. Not an easy task. While the coffee perked on one burner, I used the other for the griddle, cooking our breakfast in three courses. The pancakes ran south in the direction of the slope, looking like little oval islands. The egg yolks ran away from the whites and the sausage links, like tiny logs began a downward roll. I caught them before they hit the floor and propped up the stove with a wood wedge.

   Hungry and cold, we made it work. The hot, fresh coffee and scrambled breakfast revived our cold, tired bodies. The silent prayers revived our adventurous spirit and attitude.

   After breakfast we wrapped ourselves in coats and blankets hoping for clouds to clear and part. I was soon thankful for our shed. It doesn’t leak and can’t flood, since water won’t settle in one place long before it too runs out on the uneven side. Even the mice come in out of the rain. We survived the rigors of nature, but soon after bought a 25 ft. Airstream 1979 Land Yacht travel trailer for our “get away retreat.” It remains parked beside our shed, even today.

   Through the years when we all went up to our lot to ‘camp out’ we would still erect the tents for our girls and their families. I and my husband use the trailer, with our dog, except for times when he is feeling like the redneck he is (from Kentucky) and chooses to sleep in the tent, again. I guess I have grown spoiled, but a few more rugged campouts in a tent on the uneven ground is not very comfortable on joints or settling to jumpy nerves, and does not make for a good night’s sleep. And at times there have been signs and the presence of a rattlesnake, bear, cougar, and coyotes around. The deer, we love and welcome.

    On holidays we still all congregate around our communal fire pit roasting marshmallows, making s’mores, ‘cowboy coffee’, grilling steaks, burgers and hotdogs. When there is a fire ban in place for the county which is often the case at times during the last few years because of drought and low water levels, we resort to grilling on gas or charcoal grills we keep stored up there.

    I now laugh at the memory thinking of that weekend up there that Memorial Day, and learned a good lesson. When your together time goes awry, sweeten it with a little laughter, keep your sanity during the adventure, and save the photos and the memory.

    HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD WEEKEND, IF YOU ARE CAMPING OUT.

_______________________________

Joyce E. Johnson

Happy Memorial Day to our military, troops and veterans.

I wish all the veterans, military service men and women a very happy Memorial Day. The wars have been many, the cost of lives so great it is beyond count, the battles they fought to win and keep our freedoms innumerable. One day a year seems too few, or to short to stop and pay tribute to all they have done, and are still doing, but it is with gratitude on this one day that we can express our thanks to them all. When my husband and I turned eighteen in 1965 we became engaged and he registered for the draft as it was mandatory then during the peak years of the Vietnam War. With trepidation and anxiety the year passed, both of us working, planing and saving for our wedding in 1966. We had no way of knowing if or when he would be called up. He was registered and enrolled to begin seminary (a Bible College Institute) in California in the fall of 1966. On the day he checked back with his draft board and his paperwork to enter college he learned he was cleared and exempt, and not being called up  to serve. At the time we were thankful, but hopeful that one day after graduation from seminary he instead could help those in the service by serving himself as a chaplain. He graduated but did not go on to further and advance to his masters degree in theology to serve as a chaplain and has always been one of his regrets, but entered ministry all the same. My father served as a chaplain in the Air Force unit of the Civil Air Patrol as he was a pastor also, and served many years along side the Air Force in this service. But, whether we are civilians, military, veterans from past wars, we are all so grateful to all of our troops for their time and service to our country, to us all and to our freedoms. Thank you to all our military and veterans today. Our support, thoughts and prayers are with you all. God Bless you, and yours.

Posted May 28, 2012 by Joyce in Uncategorized

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