Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Eleven Eleven


Welcome to 11/11
Veteran's Day Here In Hawaii

click on photos for strategic enlargement
Look over there!

It's the USS Reagan,

spending a few days in Pearl Harbor.

"The more we sweat in peace the less we bleed in war."

Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit

"I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask,

"Mother, what was war?"

Eve Merriam

Hard to describe how BIG it is.
Those are the tops of trucks (lorries) in front.
Dozens of aircraft crowd the flight deck.

"In war, there are no unwounded soldiers."
José Narosky

It looms over nearby buildings.

"To be a patriot is to [sometimes] have a lovers' quarrel

with your country."

-Wm. Sloane Coffin
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I never had much awareness of the military growing up.
Sure dad, and all the men of my childhood, had won WWII
along with our allies,
but the military was not a family tradition,
or a career path that would have appealed to me.
Besides, my two childhood heroes were Martin Luther King,
and Leonardo DaVinci. Leonardo said that if you were a lover of peace, you should have brilliant machines to defend that peace.
I loved his siege engine drawings, and I still adore high-tech war birds when they roar by at tree top level for some event, like today's "missing man" flyover . . . But I digress. . .

Here in Hawaii, the military is a significant presence.
From Pearl Harbor, where WWII began for the USA,
to the Barking Sands of Kauai where missiles are launched, tracked, brought down, to Schofield Barracks where "From Here to Eternity" was lived and filmed, and on to the giant veterans' cemetery at Punchbowl where Barack Obama's grandfather lies,
Hawaii is a place where you experience the military up close.
I even wrote a poem about the young service men & women who pass through Waikiki on their way to and from more dangerous places:

These Are The Boys

These are the boys who surf the waves
Or try to
Who cruise Waikiki
With radios thumping loud
Drunken, polite
Away from home for the first time
Supremely confident in youth
And in America.
These are the boys
Who go to the wars
Who go to the wars
And Die.

As you can tell, I have very mixed feelings about all of this.
I honor those who put their lives on the line to defend homes, strangers, and high ideals. But I know that most often aggression could be avoided, and that those who "choose" diplomacy by other means
are often wilfully blind to the consequences, and to other solutions. Nonetheless, I do honor the individual who gives up their personal freedom to obey and to serve. I could never do it.

Here in Hawaii we walk among a shrinking number of aging, local Japanese boys who served in the most decorated unit of WWII;
they were the 442 "Go For Broke" boys who left family and friends in internment camps to fight fascism overseas, and to ultimately be the ones who shot the lock off the gates of Auschwitz.
"You fought two enemies, the Nazis, and prejudice. And you have won," President Harry Truman said of them.
Our Senator Dan Innouye is one of them.
Heleft his arm in France, but continues to serve Hawaii
and the nation without it.

Of course, it was US Marines off of the USS Boston in Honolulu Harbor who helped insure the overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy and of the internationally recognized nation of Hawaii.
We in Hawaii have a complicated relationship between the islands and people we love, and the USA
that our parents fought and sometimes died for.
It's like being children of a complicated marriage;
we love both of our parents, even if they disagree from time to time.
The formal apology by Bill Clinton's administration was a good step,
but only a step in resolving this relationship. . .
Yes, the military holds a lot of Hawaii land,
including a big chunk of Waikiki.
When you turn Right onto Kalia from Ala Moana Blvd, and drive past the Hilton's 3 heroic hula dancer statues, you are entering the heart of federal property. Fort DeRussy, the Hale Koa hotel, and, Kuroda Field are the sunny face of the military in Hawaii.
Depleted uranium rounds, "ordinance reef" (disposed munitions off of leeward O`ahu), and the militarization of sacred Makua valley
are the less than beautiful face of our military presence.
See, that is a complicated relationship . . .

But today we say a big "Mahalo"
to the men and women of every nation and tribe
who put themselves at discomfort and risk to serve others.
May our "leaders" respect them enough to deploy them with wisdom, discretion, and humanity.
And thanks to you too, Dad,
and ALL veterans.

A L O H A! Cloudia