Monday, December 6, 2010

Pearl Harbor

On my flight to Honolulu last Wednesday, we had a passenger who was a survivor of the Pearl Harbor raid. He wore his Navy uniform with all medals and was in a wheelchair. Turns out this 90 year old survivor was heading over for the 69th anniversary of that attack.

I tried to buy him a drink (with my credit card, not a voucher—I have a lot of vouchers because I fly so much but the point of the drink would be that I paid for it for real, if that makes sense). At first he was asleep and then later, someone in first class had already sent drinks back. After that, the flight attendant refused to let me buy any of my own drinks. He told me later he believed he’d missed his true calling to have a military career.

It’s weird. I am very proud of having served although I do not consider myself a blind follower of all US policies. And I really truly wanted to honor this survivor of what was a horrible attack committed without warning. Yet I, who never saw combat, ended up getting honored by this flight attendant because of my service and because I wanted to honor the Navy veteran. I was tempted to refuse because I am no survivor of acts of war; I realized to have done so would have diminished what that flight attendant was trying to do.

Back to fluffy kitty stuff tomorrow, I swear.


FreshHell said...

Wow. That must have been an interesting conversation. I'm rarely chatty in public spaces but I would have liked to have talked to him. No one in my family has served in the military or in a war to my knowledge except the Civil War.

Judith said...

A very few of my hospice patients would speak of their war experiences. I remember especially one who had been a pilot flying over Germany. He flew something like 18 missions, was shot down, taken prisoner and, after the war, sent home. I cannot imagine the bravery it took to do what he did. We all owe that generation a huge thank you.

Jeanne said...

I was reading about some of the vets getting a trip to Pearl Harbor. Glad you accepted, in the spirit of the flight attendant's offer.