The new year is a time for fresh, new beginnings. It is also a time of reflection, naturally coming from the visits, cards, and calls with relatives during the Holidays. Frequently the topic of conversation is all about the ‘good ol’ days’.
People get out the old movies, VCR tapes, and photos to add to their conversation. Many probably laughed how funny people looked ‘back then’, and likely some tears were shed for those family members who have passed on.
For many of us, 2016 was a very stressful time due to all the negativity surrounding the presidential campaign. There was a divided country, working it’s difficult path through this thing we call democracy. Some of that divisiveness remains today.
For me, it was a year of lots of travel for business and pleasure. My most recent trip was to be the photographer for an event held during the 75th Anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. A large group of high school bands from all over the country – 1600 of them – came to perform for the survivors of that day of infamy, December 7, 1941. While I was there, I heard a story that I want to share with you, as told by a survivor.
It was a quiet, sunny morning that day 75 years ago. The peaceful day was suddenly blackened with smoke when the base was deliberately and brutally attacked. In just less than the time it took me to write this, over 2400 of our brave servicemen and women were killed.
The story was told by Mr. Allen Bodenlos, one of the survivors of the bombing. He played in the Navy band at Pearl Harbor in 1941. He was at Waikiki Beach when it happened, and he and his buddies raced to the harbor to do what they could to save their buddies in water set ablaze by burning oil. It was his idea to have kids from around the country perform during the ceremonies of the 75th anniversary.
Allen passed away 2 years ago, and did not get to see this performance by the young patriots from around our land. I saw an interview he did a few years back, and what he said is what I want to share with you.
Here is a man who saw death, destruction, and all hope of humanity disappear before his very eyes. He was asked in the interview, “what did you learn from the experience?”. His answer was swift and clear. “To love one another, and to forgive one another”. It made me think about our country’s future. If a man like this learned this lesson from this tragedy, can we learn the same thing from our divisiveness in 2016? The answer is crystal clear to me. Yes. We can love. We can forgive. No matter what.
So, as you look toward the new year, remember Allen. His words and inspiration. If he could do this, we certainly can too.