When I was 18 years old I visited the monument at Pearl Harbor. It was eerie and sent a chill through my bones. The loud speaker was obnoxious and frightening. It played over and over, “THIS IS NOT A DRILL” “THIS IS A DAY THAT WILL LIVE…..”
Being there scared me. I didn’t like being on the monument. I didn’t like the boat ride over. I didn’t like standing next to the other tourist. I didn’t like the many Japanese tourists. I didn’t like how I felt. I was nervous and to tell you the truth, while standing gazing at the wall of engraved names of those who lost their lives and were buried right under my feet, I felt like I needed air. I wanted to get on the boat and go back to the island. My brain was swirling and I wanted to breathe.
About 10 years ago, we traveled to Pearl Harbor again. I can honestly report that twenty years in between did me the world of good. I could take it in, all in. Yes, that blasted loud speaker is still as loud and heart thumping as ever. Yes, there are still tourist from all walks of life. Yes, I still got goosebumps. Yes, the wall of names is exactly the same. Yes, it is still a cemetery that you are visiting and walking on top of.
This time, I had changed. I had a grateful heart. I was honored to be allowed to visit there. I had learned more of the history. I had read the stories. It was an honor to pay my respects to those who had lost their lives. It was a privilege as an American citizen to spend some time there thinking and breathing.
I like who I have become. I am a much more humble and kindhearted person. I like that I can understand fully how to be grateful. I also understand how important it is to pass on the lessons that I learned.
Follow after things which make for Peace.