Blog Your Blessings: "What Does Hallowed Mean, Again?"
On Tuesday, I brought my daughter and nephews to the National Submarine Memorial in Groton, Connecticut, before we made our way to Fort Trumbull and Ocean Beach Park for an afternoon of sunshine and the sea. (I was retracing the footsteps of a well-spent Saturday.)
I wondered before we got there how they'd respond to a bunch of granite slabs with names of men and submarines engraved on them. What is it to a young child to know that a great-great uncle's name was among the 3,617 on that wall, and so was the name of his submarine, which the Japanese had sunk after 8 patrols in the Pacific? Global warfare, duty, bravery, honor, adventure, death--what do these concepts mean to kids who have walked this earth for a decade or less?
I grew up hearing the stories from my grandmother, and I have retold them on this blog many times. Loving my grandmother and her siblings whom I knew as much as I did, I can't help wondering about the great-uncle I never would meet and hearing his stories.
As the kids walked around and studied the conning tower, the torpedo, the plaques, and the names that comprise this memorial, I told them what I knew of Laurence Isbell's story. They sought their uncle's name, found it, and stood by it. They attempted to count the names of the other men. They read the names of the boats in search of his, the Herring.
"Hey. They all say 'no survivors'--but that one says there were 3 pows What's a pow, and why were there no survivors?"
That came from Adam, who will begin second grade in the fall. He read all he could, and he was the first to find the Herring.
With a little bit of help from his brother and cousin, he also did us the honor of reading the words of Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz: "We shall never forget that it was our submarines that held the line against the enemy while our fleets replaced losses and repaired wounds."
Together, the three kids worked on reading the words, "walk softly, walk softly stranger, you stand on hallowed ground," inscribed on the Wall of Honor.
They were into it; it was a touching sight--so much so that the landscapers trimming the grass watched them and smiled until they were finished and then apologized for making so much noise
Adam touched my heart, though. He checked out the torpedo hatches with his little hands, speculated on the purposes of the various parts of the conning tower, and wanted more than anything to take a brochure to read in the car. He was everywhere at once and on it.
As we pulled away from the memorial and headed for the beach, "What does hallowed mean, again?" came to me from the back seat.
"Very special," I said. "Very, very special."
Blog Your Blessings