December 7, 2007

The first time I saw Pearl Harbor was on a quiet Sunday morning in 1992. I had never been to Hawaii, and was traveling with DMAT WA-01, our state’s Disaster Medical Assistance Team. We were responding to the destruction wrought by Hurricane Iniki on the island of Kauai. We had to wait in staging in Honolulu until the County of Kauai decided they wanted/needed outside assistance (island people are as stubborn as rural people when it comes to preferring to be self-sufficient). FEMA granted us one brief 4 hour “shore leave” to do anything we wanted while they worked out the logistics. Two of us boarded a city bus from the airport to Pearl Harbor. I read a lot of WWII history in high school, had read Michener’s “Day of Infamy,” seen all the movie footage. It was awesome to stand on the Arizona Memorial, in the original sense of inspiring awe and reverence. The men on the ships didn’t expect anything unusual that morning, just as no one at the World Trade Center expected anything more than a normal day at the office on September 11, 2001. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.