It seems like only yesterday I left you, resting in the company of so many others like you.
I brought back home with me, a handful of pale shells and fragments of bleached coral, and several blades of grass plucked from near your headstone-imaging you would be flattered that I thought to remember you with a few small tokens of the place on earth you loved the most. A place I tried as best I could to burn into my memory. Towering green velvet hills and rock studded shores. Soaring coconut palms and exotic flowers of every imaginable hue. The heady scent of tropical air. Miles of sandy beaches. And the water. Especially the water. If I’d not seen the startlingly rich parakeet-colored blue and turquoise of the Pacific myself, I would find such a description impossible to believe.
Those sand-dusted pieces of your heart seem foreign in my home, situated as I am hundreds of miles from the ocean, and thousands of miles from Hawaii. And I’m glad. They serve as a constant reminder that your sudden absence years ago left a gaping hole in the lives of your mother and father, your brothers and sisters, your friends, and the woman you loved-and foretold of a future horribly foreign when compared to the future hoped for.
Not that I really need bits of shell and coral and grass to remind me. I’ll never forget you.
I was on the road all day yesterday, but I still wanted to post this Veterans Day tribute for My Uncle Pete, who was killed in action January 9th, 1945. He is buried in the Punchbowl Cemetery on the island of Oahu.