|Thank a Veteran
This Veteran's Day
There is a picture that sat on my mother’s mantle for as long as I can
remember. It was of my uncle Marvin Lee Ferguson. He’s somewhere in the
South Pacific standing in front of his ship in his white sailor uniform with
legs spread out and his hands on his hips. He had a smile on his face that said
I’m young, I’m free and I’ve got the world by the tail.
The black & white photograph was taken in the summer of 1941. Marvin Lee
was stationed in Hawaii with thousands of other sailors, soldiers, and airmen.
Europe was at war when Uncle Marvin Lee joined the Navy, but I doubt that he
fathomed what the future held for him.
Early on that fateful Sunday morning in December of 1941, I imagine the air raid
sirens must have sounded strange in contrast to the steady lap of ocean waves
against the hull of the ship and the squawking of seabirds. But at 6 a.m. local
time, waves of Japanese aircraft attacked the sleeping port of Pearl Harbor.
History says that 2403 military personnel died that morning, most of which perished
in the first fifteen minutes of the attack.
One of the ships docked at Pearl Harbor was the USS. California, the ship to
which uncle Marvin Lee was assigned. He died in the opening moments of the attack
that lead to World War II. He was the first person from Walker County to die
in that war.
According to an article in Wikipedia, “The California was hit by two bombs
and two torpedoes. The crew might have kept her afloat, but were ordered to abandon
ship just as they were raising power for the pumps. Burning oil from Arizona
and West Virginia drifted down on her,…”
We do not know whether Uncle Marvin Lee died of drowning, burned
to death, or died on the impact of the bombs but his life ended in
those murky waters at Pearl Harbor. They wrote his name on the USS
Arizona Memorial list at Pearl Harbor and the VFW Post 4850 in Jasper
is named in his honor.
When you look back through history, there are thousands upon thousands
of stories about our military men and women who were willing to lay
down their lives for us.
Most soldiers do not question whether a war is just or unjust; they
leave that debate to others. They are asked to do their jobs in some
of the most unspeakable circumstances imaginable and they do it with
pride and without whining.
Some people do not give a second thought to Veteran’s Day except
that it’s a great day to shop. I am not one of those people.
When I think of Veteran’s Day, I am humbled by the sacrifices
our service men and women have made and continue to make.
No other people on earth are more deserving of our undying gratitude.
The debt we owe them can never be repaid.
So on this Veteran’s Day I want to say to all the Veterans,
and the families of Veterans, thank you from the bottom of my heart.