"A Letter of Remembrance"
Today, it is fitting that we are here in remembrance of those who fought in the
first six months of World War II in the Pacific and the Battle of Midway, for it is here
-- in Pearl Harbor -- where it all began, and it is here on this great battleship
where it all ended. And two days from today, on Wednesday, we will visit MIDWAY, where
the course of this history was changed forever. Let me read a passage from Herman
Wouk's "War and Remembrance."
In the story, Pug Henry is writing to his wife, Rhoda, about the loss of their
son, Warren, at Midway. I quote: " By now you have the official word. "Warren was
killed on the last day, on a routine mission of mopping up enemy cripples. He will
probably get a posthumous Navy Cross.... Warren must have flown a dozen search and
attack sorties in three days. He and a few hundred young men like him carried the brunt
of a great victorious battle. Somewhere a character in Shakespeare says, "We owe God a
death." Even if we could roll back time to that rainy evening in March 1939...when
he told us he was putting in for flight training...just like that, no fuss, confronting
us with the - fate accompli - and even if we knew what the future held in store, what
could we do differently?
He was born to a service father.... He chose the best branch of the Navy for
effectiveness against the enemy; certainly he proved that! Few men in any armed
force, on any front, will strike a harder blow for their country than he did. That is
what he set out to do. His life was successful, fulfilled and complete. He won't have
any fame. When the war's over, nobody will remember the ones in the heat of battle.
They'll probably forget the names of the admirals, even of the battles that saved this
country.... Our son turned the tide. He was there when it mattered and where it
mattered. He took his life in his own hands, went in there, and did his duty as a
fighting man. I'm proud of him. I'll never lose that pride. He'll be in my last
thoughts...'' End quote. Fortunately, the words of Pug Henry have not prevailed. As of
today, we have NOT forgotten the men who helped preserve our freedom. For the sake of
generations to come, I pray that the sacrifices of our heroes are always
In closing, today, I challenge each and every one of you to carry the memory
of these gallant men forward, so that our children may be inspired by the actions of such
James M. D'Angelo, M.D.
Copyright: June 3, 2002