Thursday, December 8, 2011

"To Secure The Blessings of Liberty For Themselves and Their Posterity ..."

Pearl Harbor survivors Ted Ivey of Cupertino, California at left, and Warren Upton at the Moffett Field Museum's reception honoring the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day. The photo is by artist Anna Jacke.

A crowd of more than seventy five people stopped by the Moffett Field Historical Museum, Wednesday, December 7, 2011, for a reception and art exhibit in remembrance of the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day. Among those present, were five special guests who on that day were young men in uniform serving on ships and at bases around that famous anchorage.

Warren Upton, 93, enjoyed the camaraderie at the Moffett Museum's Pearl Harbor Day event.

Warren Upton was a 23-year-old radioman aboard the USS Utah. As the first torpedo hit his ship, he and all but one in his group scrambled up a ladder to safety. When the Utah sank eleven minutes later she took 54 of his comrades with her.

Ted Ivey, aged 90. The photo is by artist John Deckert.

His friend, Ted Ivey, was an Army gunner at Schofield Barracks that morning, on Waikiki Beach. The two men have been longtime members of the Santa Clara Valley Chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. They were among those who voted to donate their flag to the Moffett Museum this year when the chapter shut down--due to dwindling membership.

The art exhibit at the Moffett Museum was part of the event honoring Pearl Harbor Day. Photo by Anna Jacke.

Veterans of World War II and other American conflicts, active duty military, family members, and artists who were exhibiting their paintings of Moffett's iconic Hangar One, all mingled at the reception. Almost everyone stopped to thank the Pearl Harbor survivors.

Charles Merdinger (Captain, USN ret.), 93, was on the USS Nevada on December 7, 1941. Gunners on the ship shot down four Japanese planes, but the Nevada was badly damaged by at least five bombs. Sixty men were killed that day on the Nevada, and 109 were wounded.

Korean War veteran Joseph Cusick had a special reason to stop by. He donated his Navy flight suit to the museum awhile back, and learned that artist John Deckert had turned it into a painting.

Joseph Cusick, Commander (USN ret.) poses with his fifty-year-old flight suit and with artist John Deckert. Cusick came to honor Pearl Harbor Day, and Deckert came to meet Cusick, whose flight suit he had painted.

John Decker's painting of Cusick's flight suit.

"What do you think about your flight suit now?" asked Herb Parsons, president of the Moffett Field Historical Society.

"That fellow was pretty slim," Commander Cusick said with a wry smile, to much laughter.

Seventy years had turned a day of tragedy and sorrow into a day in which a nation honored these awe inspiring veterans. So many had sacrificed so much--and America and the richness of its liberty, the breadth of its diversity, the wonder of its many freedoms remained secure. 

This has been their legacy.

*    *     *     *   *
Diana Jaye's painting of Moffett Field's Shenandoah Plaza.

One personal note: in the middle of the event, a young man with a military bearing approached me and asked how he might go about buying one of the paintings on exhibit. I told him I was happy to help. And he walked me over to one of my favorite paintings in the show--by artist Diana Jaye.

"How did you know about our reception today?" I asked him. 

"Oh, I read about it in the paper," he said. "I'm a reservist with the 351st Civil Affairs Command in Mountain View."

He must have been surprised when he saw me stop and catch my breath. My father was one of the founding officers of the 351st. When he  retired from the unit as a full colonel, he served as the group's alumnae president for many years.

It was an emotional reminder of why I was a volunteer, at that event, on that day, in that place my father  loved. As the tall young officer walked away--for just a moment, I felt my father there with me once more. He really would have enjoyed himself. He always loved a reception where there were lots of free cookies for him to eat.

Add to 
Google Reader or Homepage
Subscribe to Robin Chapman News


Ginny (Gilmore) Brown said...

Thank you for this, Robin. My dad was a Navy pilot who was at Pearl Harbor on Dec 7...he never talked about that day -- or any WW II experiences -- until our daughter asked him if she could interview him for a world history project at school. I will forever treasure that old VHS tape of my dad (and mom, too) talking to his granddaughter about his historic was the first time he would ever share this memory, and it was easy to see why. We are lucky daughters, indeed, to have their legacy and their memory in our hearts.
Ginny Gilmore Brown (LAHS '68), daughter of Cdr. G. "Gil" Gilmore, USN

Robin Chapman said...

So many what ifs in my life: why didn't we ask our fathers to speak to our history classes in school? I feel lucky though that I had that last year, painful as it was, with my father. He knew I loved him and cared about all he had done for me, for his family and for his country. We can never repay them, except by working hard in this generation and the next to retain those liberties they risked so much to hand down to us.