Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"Where Am I?"

Our group had the amazing and blessed opportunity to spend the night on the famous battleship, the USS Missouri. It was on the these decks where the bloodshed of World War II finally came to an end. The feeling all of the girls had last night as we crawled into our very “authentic” bunks was the realization that many men who gave their lives for our country lived on this very ship many years ago.
Six a.m. can sometimes approach very quickly, and whoever created lights that automatically turn on at this time was not my favorite person this morning. That was something my mom would occasionally do and I have never been very happy about it. Nonetheless, as I rolled over on my very “comfortable” cot, my initial thought was, “Where am I?” I was so confused.  Then it all came rushing back to me; I was actually waking up on one of America’s most famous ships and it made me realize that one constant on this amazing trip will be the question, “Where am I?”

I am on the island of Oahu, Hawaii spending three nights on a military base. We are literally staying in Pearl Harbor, and it feels like such a fairy tale I still can’t believe it! Last night I stayed on an actual battleship and this morning we watched with tear filled eyes as our new grandfathers saluted our nation’s flag being raised amidst a beautiful sunrise over the waters and mountains of Pearl Harbor. After this very emotional moment, we began a very full day. We were able to tour the USS Bowfin, a WWII era submarine and also the modern-day Destroyer, USS O’Kane. Both tours were extremely interesting, but it was amazing to see the technology aboard the O’Kane and reflect on the evolution of our military preparedness.  Our veterans were amazed by these advancements, and as we walked along side them, they acted like school kids again, excited about everything they saw.  It was an experience I will cherish forever.  As they talked to each other about the “good ‘ol days” all I could see were four young teenage boys reliving their pasts, and I couldn’t help but smile.

We have barely begun this miraculous trip, but I can already tell the impact it has made on me. Mr. Guy H. Piper is whom I am proud to call my veteran, and whom I am also proud to say is impacting me in the most profound ways. He preferred to stay last night on the military base rather than the USS Missouri; therefore, Mr. Piper missed the opportunity to be presented a beautifully encased American flag that had flown over the ship as well as the USS Arizona Memorial. However, my partner, Katelyn Vandeloecht and I had the opportunity to award Mr. Guy Piper with these honors at dinner tonight. I wish he could have been on the ship this morning to receive these awards from someone in uniform, but tonight was an emotional and memorable moment for me. As I handed him the flag, I got the chance to look into his worn eyes that were filled with memories, but also an overwhelming since of pride. It was here in the Silver Dolphin Bistro located on the military base of Pearl Harbor where I looked into my new grandpa’s eyes and again asked myself, “Where am I and how was I blessed enough to be here?”

Carissa Westfall

1 comment:

  1. Exactly. :)

    I'm so excited for you all right now. Nothing compares to that feeling when you realize you've got give new grandfathers. :)