Watery grave

Kaitlin Humphrey, Featured Columnist

I stare at the pink and white flowers delicately floating in the water under the white memorial. For an instant I’m struck still. I’m unable to move as terror seizes me. I imagine the sight that occurred over 70 years ago. I imagine the bombs exploding as men rushed around in sheer panic, their comrades killed before their eyes. I imagine the massive battleships which I now stand over submerged under the dark, murky water of the harbor. My heart rate quickens. I feel light-headed for a second, imagining the havoc the surprise attack must have caused not only for the sailors but for the civilians. I imagine the pure horror of fearing for loved ones on the several battleships docked in the harbor.

There is a white marble wall to my left. Chiseled into the untainted surface are the names of every sailor and civilian killed in the attack that December day. My watery eyes scan the list of dates and names. Many of the men were not much older than me.

The sea breeze rustles my blond hair and I regain my composure. I continue watching the flowers as they float past orange, rusty parts of the USS Arizona that are visible above the water. I see drops of black oil leaking from the hull of the great, defeated ship rise to the surface of the water. I had heard people call it the tears of the sailors. It was fitting for the war grave.

The oil is a lasting memory for generations – a memory of sacrifice, life and death. It is a reminder to me of how precious life is, how easily it can be taken away and how each moment counts. The men who died that fateful day did not wake up knowing it would be their last, and neither will I when my day comes. I would not call this moment a lesson learned, but more of a reminder – to live life to its fullest. To not count the passing days, but to make each of those passing days count.