Just got word that my great-uncle, Garth Brown, passed away today. (No condolences needed -- he was 92 years old and had been sick a long time.)
Garth served on the USS Oklahoma. It was hit with three torpedoes on December 7, 1941. He was thrown from the ship, swam up through a layer of oil, and survived clinging to driftwood.
As it happens, that was the first of three times he would survive a sinking ship. (He wasn't much for swimming after that; I never saw him in a pool.)
FDR called it "a date which will live in infamy". And I suppose it did, for awhile anyway. But most people my age don't know what the hell the significance of December 7 is -- probably don't even know who Roosevelt was, and only know what Pearl Harbor was because of that godawful Michael Bay movie.
(I know, I know -- "godawful Michael Bay movie" is a tautology.)
Anyhow. The local paper usually ran a story on Garth every December 7; there's a good one from two years ago over at azcentral.
Funny that he made it to one more Pearl Harbor Day before he passed. Not "funny" as in laughable, of course, but "funny" as in one of those weird little coincidences that make you stop and think for a minute.
They call Garth's generation the Greatest Generation -- and it's because of guys like Garth that they call it that. The ones who beat back the Great Depression, and beat back the Nazis.
Uncle Garth -- you were something else, man. One of the bravest souls it was ever my pleasure to know. Godspeed, and rest in peace.
And to those of you reading this -- if you get the chance, say something nice to a veteran.