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Re: [Seniormemoirs] My Reading for Dec 7th

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  • Marie Prescott
    Dear Don,  I am so sorry I could not attend on Wednesday, but I thank you for sending your reading.  It is very touching; you literally got inside your
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 7, 2011
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      Dear Don,  I am so sorry I could not attend on Wednesday, but I thank you for sending your reading.  It is very touching; you literally got inside your subject.  I never fail to not only remember this day, but I always seem to find some little fact or s tory about it that is new to me.  Let us never forget to honor those men. 
                  If I don't see you and your wife, Merry Christmas to you both.    Marie

      From: "cdwelsher@..." <cdwelsher@...>
      To: "Seniormemoirs, Barnes & Noble" <Seniormemoirs@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 1:37 PM
      Subject: [Seniormemoirs] My Reading for Dec 7th


      Following is my reading to the group today.
      A Day to Remember
      It must be morning.  The jagged hole in the deck above me is starting to get lighter.  I can see murky fish silhouettes now as they swim by.  In another hour or two there will be people coming.  They will cluster around the railing and stare down. I don’t think they can see me – it’s almost 40 feet.
      It's cold down here, and dark. I've been down here 70 years this month. When they built the platform fifty years ago, people started to come and that helped.  I didn't feel so alone.  I'm not alone, of course, but the 1100 other guys down here keep to themselves.  None of us can talk anymore.  We can’t even move; we’re here forever. We remember, though.  I was still in my bunk reading a letter from home because it was Sunday. Later I was going to go ashore to Oahu , maybe spend some time at the beach. When they called, “ Battle stations,” just before 0800 hours, I thought, it’s gotta be a drill. But who the hell would order a drill on a Sunday morning? I jumped out of my bunk and had taken only a few steps when the ship shook so hard it knocked me off my feet. Then came deafening noise, more shocks and then fire, and then water rushing in—fire and water everywhere. Everything was tipped badly. We were all scrambling to get topside, literally climbing the walls. But we were stuck.  We didn’t know it yet, but the bulkhead hatches were blasted shut.
      There’s more light coming through the hole now. There’s the first group of people at the railing up there. A young kid is among them, he looks about 18, my age.  He’s stepped away now, after a brief look. It’s a Wednesday today, maybe he’s thinking about the beach, like I was. The kid can’t remember us. He can only read about us, or maybe listen to the old geezers who do. I don’t know if he cares.
      I was supposed to ship home in another month, but no, I’m still here, looking up at the hole. I’m not going anywhere now. More faces are showing up, a lot more—I’ve counted almost 5000 some days. I used to hope I’d see Mom or Dad up there, but they were gone before the platform was built.
      There’s an older guy up there now. He uses a cane and moves slowly, and he’s wearing a baseball cap with insignias on it. The water moves and for a moment I can’t see him. I’ve come to know it was the ripple from a tear. The old man stands there a long time. His lips move slowly as he stares down, but of course, I can’t hear him. I know he’s praying, a lot of them do. I wonder if I know him. I wonder if he was one of the 335 who got out. Probably not; it’s still early morning, and only seven buddies are still living. But they’ll come here today—I know they will. That will be tough, because I know each of them, and I’ll wish I could tell them thanks for coming, and ask them how they’re doing, and about their grandkids―and about mine.
      Vernon Olsen will be here today, too. At 91, he was the eighth buddy still living, but his ashes will come here today in an urn. I remember Vernon . They’ll place him where I know he’d want to be―down here in gun turret number four, with us. 
      Next to me, a dark iridescent shape slowly rises to the surface. It’s oil seeping up from the engines―the USS Arizona is crying too. Sometimes when it’s dark and there’s nobody up there, I think I can hear again. I hear the explosions, and the screams. But every now and then, when it’s real quiet, I hear a bugle, far away, softly playing Taps, and I get peaceful again.
      Today, I can see the faces more clearly. It must be sunny up there. A woman stands at the rail a long time, then leans over and drops a flower. I’ve seen a lot of flowers drop. I’ve seen a lot of tears ripple the water. The people can’t see me, but I see them. I’ve even seen my son, and my grandchildren—they’ve been here. I’ve seen presidents; Reagan, Clinton, Kennedy—all of them. I’ve looked up through the murky water and seen buddies I never met—veterans of Korea , Vietnam , Iraq , Afghanistan―so many of them come. I wish I could thank them, and tell them I’m glad—I’m glad they remember. Please, all of you, remember me.

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