My parents took us to cemeteries regularly during my young years. They taught us about our people and our past by reading the headstones, each one with a story. They taught us to never, never, walk on a grave, because it showed great disrespect for the bones beneath our feet. Sometimes, in the old cemeteries, it is hard to tell exactly where the graves are, but I still try my best not to walk on one.
Today marks 75 years since that morning when Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was attacked by the Japanese. Hundreds of men died, and our country entered World War II. The ship Arizona was among those that sank that day. In 1962, the Arizona memorial was built directly over where the skeleton of the great ship rests on the shallow seafloor. It covers what remains of 1177 souls lost in a few minutes on that Sunday morning. When we were there in October, it was a somber place. It felt like I was walking on graves.
Seventy-five years later, oil from the Arizona leaks to the surface, at the rate of about nine quarts a day. Environmentalists there predict that it will seep for another half-century. Seeing that oil on the water made the battle so authentic and personal to me.
There may come a time, maybe not so far in the future, when I won't remember much, but I don't think I can ever forget the sadness I felt when I saw that oil on the water; a physical reminder of the overwhelming loss to wives, mothers, families, and our country.