"I was there" was a previous post that I made almost a year ago when I was still working in Memphis at the VA. I think about this man often. I wanted to copy it over here because it is appropriate for this date.
Today, I am working in Conway at Better Hearing Care and my first patient was a Veteran. He told me that 69 years ago today he was in Hawaii stationed at Pearl Harbor. I can not imagine the fear that was running through his mind and through the minds of everyone there.
Today should be remembered forever.
"I was there"
I am in the middle of work, and probably should not be blogging, but i just sat and talked with a piece of history and while it is still fresh on my mind...i wanted to share.
Working at the VA is a great experience for me...you have your good and your bad days...and your good and your bad patients...but there are days like today that you hope you never forget.
I brought back my 1 oclock patient, took him into the earwash room to take a peek in his ears and ask him a few questions about his noise exposure, ear problems, hearing issues, etc....
When I asked him what branch of the military he was in, he proudly replied "Navy"
When I asked him about his history of noise exposure, he replied "I was there, Pearl Harbor, December 7th, 1941...i was there"
My heart skipped a beat. I already get a warm feeling serving those who have served us. I have spoken with WWII vets who were shot in the face, fought face to face with Germans, rode tanks into Germany, etc...I come from a line of Navy Vets, Air Force Vets, a Marine Vet who was there for the raising of the flag at Iwo Jema...but I have never gotten to sit and talk with them when they were available to talk...and being here at work, i have little to no time to hear about history....and even if I did, I am not sure any of these guys would be willing to share. Some of them still have a hard time thinking about what they saw.
Today, I was selfish, and I took my time to hear him talk. It was after the hearing test and I was making impressions of his ears for hearing aids....I asked him to tell me about it. And he did.
He joined the Navy December 16th, 1940. Arrived in Hawaii in March 1941 and was on the U.S.S. Nevada on December 7th 1941. For those of you who are not familiar (which was me and I had to google it)...this is what wikipedia says about the U.S.S. Nevada.
"In World War II, she was one of the battleships trapped when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. She was the only battleship to get underway during the attack, making the ship "the only bright spot in an otherwise dismal and depressing morning". Still, she was hit by one torpedo and at least six bombs while steaming away from Battleship Row, forcing her to be beached. "
He spent 6 years in the Navy until he got an honorable discharge. He and his brother both were there, and they both survived.
After the appointment, he took me out to the lobby where his daughter was sitting. He showed me his official discharge papers from the Navy and his application for a medal for fighting in Pearl Harbor. His daughter told me that he didnt start talking about his experiences until about 10 years ago. Can you imagine bottling that up for 50 years?
I need to get back to work, so I will have to cut this short...but I was so blown away and humbled by the moment I got to spend with a piece of history...i wanted to share. It isnt every day like this that I am reminded just how much people have sacrificed for our safety and freedom...