From the lodge at Oxmoor……this morning at breakfast our manager, Beth, read to us of some historic happenings from the past. Most seemed to be listening intently, others never stopped eating and gave little indication they cared. She first noted that yesterday was the seventy-first anniversary of the beginning of World War II, and even more tragically, the bombing of Pearl Harbor. This was, to me, the most poignant of her remarks. I wonder how many in that room yesterday gave even a minute’s time to reflecting on the profound effect that day had on our country and its citizens and of all the young lives that were lost.
Each year since that day I think of Bobby.
Bobby was a 18 year-old curly blonde-haired boy from the neighborhood of Dixie Highway and Garland Street. Bobby was a bit mischievous, a bit wild, a loving son to a widowed mother, a lover of boats and the river. It was no surprise when we heard Bobby had enlisted in the Navy. He told everyone who would listen, “I’m going to sail the seven seas, and sail around the world. I hate to leave my mom, but I could set sail and never come back.”
And so it was that Bobby found his ship, found his body of water. It wasn’t on a ocean, it was at Pearl Harbor, in December, 1941. He wrote his Mom, “tell every one I am in Neptune’s Heaven, my ship is beautiful and there is water everywhere.”
On December 7, 1941, Bobby manned his anti-aircraft station with his mates to bring down the enemy that dared destroy his beloved ship. The kamikaze pilot crashed his plane almost directly into Bobby’s station. His mother received two communications that week: one from the War Department and the other, a letter from Bobby. He wrote his mom to tell her “I am the luckiest, happiest guy in the world. If and when I die, I found my dream, something some people never do.” His letter was dated December 6, 1941.
Every Pearl Harbor day I think of Bobby. His body was never found but I always imagine him swimming in the Harbor, named Pearl.