Our thanks goes out to Vere Gardner for sharing his story with us for the Thursday, Dec. 7, Appeal-Democrat. That was the Pearl Harbor Day edition.
There are very, very few Pearl Harbor witnesses and survivors left alive. Gardner, 94, Gridley, is one of them. He left the mess hall 76 years ago just as the first bombs were being dropped. All these years later, he hasn’t stopped thinking about it and he doesn’t want the rest of us to stop remembering it.
“It’s my duty and my responsibility to make sure people don’t forget what happened at Pearl Harbor, so I go and speak whenever people need me to at events or schools.”
His service didn’t end there, of course. He told our reporter that he spent six years aboard the cruiser USS Salt Lake City and was in 37 major engagements during his tenure and traveled some 500,000 miles.
There are good reasons to make sure we remember Pearl Harbor – the tragedy, the valor ... and the testament to the need for vigilance and preparedness.
The U.S. has suffered in the past from the delusion of invulnerability. But the truth is, we can be attacked – whether it’s being peppered with terroristic actions or targeted by major military operations. We need to remember Pearl Harbor and its lessons, among them being ready to intercept attacks and responding to them.
At some point, we won’t have the benefit of those veterans who witnessed Pearl Harbor first hand.
It will fall to organizations to make sure there is some ceremony to mark the day. It doesn’t need to be too elaborate ... the ringing of bells, or a minute of community silence ... but we need to think of some action, some event, that we can all participate in and comment on. A couple area organizations are doing so; here’s hoping the effort expands.
Thumbs Down/Up: Our proofreading was lacking for the Friday edition. The headline should have said that a second-grader saved a friend from choking (not chocking) to death. And in the picture we should have said the hero saved the kid on the left. Sorry for the foul-ups.
But that doesn’t take away from the fact that Cedar Lane Elementary’s Keira Cameron saw a friend in distress (Brandon Taylor was choking on a piece of orange) and took the sort of decisive action in an emergency that few adults are called on to take, successfully administering the abdominal thrust maneuver (formerly referred to as the Heimlich maneuver). She said she had read an instructional poster in the cafeteria and followed the directions.
Thumbs up: To Rusty the therapy dog and his helper Terry Brown. Rusty is a proud and noble dachshund who regularly pays visits to assisted living centers, nursing homes and hospices. He was saved by his friend Terry, who found the lost dog and had him certified as a therapy animal, and now he has a calling in life. Rusty even has a gimmick ... he can raise his left paw and wave it up and down at people.
We’re preoccupied, always looking for the huge things in the world, the big things in life. In the meantime, there’s a simple clown of a dog who makes life just a little lighter for those he visits.
Ugh: An engineer died and goes to the devil. Dissatisfied with the level of comfort in hell, he starts designing and building improvements.
One day St. Peter calls and asks Satan, “So, how are things going down there?”
Satan says, “Why, things are going great. We’ve now got air conditioning, iced water, flush toilets and escalators, and there’s no telling what this engineer is going to come up with next.”
St. Peter is horrified. “What? You’ve got an engineer? That’s clearly a mistake – he should never have gone down there! Send him up here immediately!”
Satan says, “No way. I really like having an engineer on the staff. I’m keeping him.”
“Send him up here or I’ll take you to court.”
“Yeah, right,” Satan laughs, “Where are you going to get a lawyer?”