Over the last several days, American flags have waved at half-staff across our country.
On December 7, it was in memory of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which took place seventy-seven years ago.
American flags also stood at half-mast in memory of World War II veteran and President George H.W. Bush, who died on November 30.
Which sparked memories. As a youngster, I lived two doors down from a Pearl Harbor survivor. That fateful Sunday morning, my neighbor stood watch on the USS Pennsylvania, and thus had a ringside seat for the attack. From his perch in the ship's crow’s nest, he could easily see enemy planes buzzing Battleship Row a short distance across the harbor.
In the 1970s, with my neighbor's help, I completed my maiden historical project during elementary school: I wrote a paper about Pearl Harbor, and at my request my gentle neighbor came to our class to share his experiences. I've never forgotten it, or him.
The passing of President Bush further reminded me how veterans of World War II once surrounded all of us. My elementary school principal fought on Iwo Jima. A fellow church member piloted a landing craft to the Normandy beaches on D-Day. Another flew bombers over occupied Europe. Yet another man I knew rode in a tank destroyer across Europe. I'm sure there were more such veterans and I just never knew it.
Those men and women set examples of how to live and serve that I try to follow every day.