The hull of the battleship USS Arizona, sunk by Japanese Imperial Navy aircraft on December 7, 1941, is clearly visible beneath the blue waters of Pearl Harbor at Honolulu, Hawaii. Above the vessel is a memorial structure/shrine constructed to honor those who died there. Nearly twelve hundred Sailors and Marines were killed aboard the vessel, most in a single, massive explosion, and more than eleven hundred remain entombed within it. More than twenty-four hundred Americans were killed in total. The ship actually is an active military cemetery, and the ashes of survivors of the attack still are scattered there or placed in urns within the sunken hull upon their death.
Time & distance
Part of my boyhood was spent standing in the background hidden in shadows watching men play poker and pinochle and variations of euchre .... watching them drink beer, sometimes with shots of whiskey -- boilermakers, in their parlance .... watching them smoke cigarettes and cigars until the air around them was blue .... and, at times, listening to them talk about when they were young and had been to places they never had heard of before war took them there. Some of them had physical scars; all of them had emotional scars.
The ages of these men varied, as did the wars in which they had fought. Some even had fought in the "War to End All Wars," including one who was the final survivor of an American Legion "Last Man's Club." The bottle of wine which came to him for that distinction was never opened, and is now in my possession, never to be opened, at least during my lifetime. That is another story.
A few of the men had been in and out of the Hawaiian Islands. One of them had been there on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese Imperial Navy struck from the sky in a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and other United States military installations. He survived the attack and the war. It was evident that he always felt guilty for doing so. He more or less drank himself to death to atone for his war-luck.