I think of prayer as a spiritual lifeline back to where I most want to be.
(US Sailor Petty Officer First Class Joe George / Photo: George-Taylor family / Speical for The Republic)
(****for some bizarre reason, the post I wrote yesterday and attempted to post
via my phone this morning did not post in its entirety.
I’ve had to delete it and go back in to find what I had last written and saved.
I’ve cut, paste and fixed the original post intended…which you will see here…)
Last night with the television on, while the news played on in the background
as some sort of mindless white noise,
I was perched on the couch with my trusty little laptop in my lap.
I was struggling with my ponderings.
I didn’t know what to write.
What was to be the next day’s post??
Time, or the lack thereof, has been such an issue so being short, sweet and concise
Suddenly, a familiar voice caught my attention, pulling me back to the moment.
The voice was that of Gary Sinise and it was coming from a trailer for a new story coming
As most folks know, Gary Sinise is most remembered for his iconic role as Lt Dan
in the movie Forrest Gump.
I was not a fan of the movie.
I found it just way too silly and bordering on stupid.
Sure there was that hoped-for lesson at the end of unconditional love, but I just
wasn’t won over by the attempt.
However, my appreciation for Gary Sinise runs deep and comes from his tireless work for
and with veterans along with and for their families.
He actually oversees a foundation that focuses on our veterans, first responders
and their families…
At the Gary Sinise Foundation, we serve our nation by honoring our defenders,
veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need.
We do this by creating and supporting unique programs designed to entertain, educate,
inspire, strengthen, and build communities.
Freedom and security are precious gifts that we, as Americans, should never take
We must do all we can to extend our hand in times of need to those who willingly
sacrifice each day to provide that freedom and security.
While we can never do enough to show gratitude to our nation’s defenders,
we can always do a little more.
So now it seems that there is a new documentary coming to PBS about Pearl Harbor.
The trailer is narrated by Gary Sinise.
The story is about the heroism of an unsung naval roughneck and boxer,
Naval Petty Officer First Class Joe George.
With only seconds to make a life-altering decision, to defy or not to defy the orders given
by his commanding officer, a 26-year-old Petty Officer George unwittingly turned hero.
It was within those few seconds of wavering that meant the saving of 6 men who
were caught on the burning USS Arizona, men who without the quick thinking and action
of Joe George, would have all burned alive–
right in front of the eyes of this young sailor.
However, despite his selfless act, Petty Officer George was never recognized for
his action of heroism nor was he to ever talk about what happened that
fateful December 7th day…
not until very late in his life did he verbally recall a very visceral nightmare.
Fast forward to our current day.
Joe George passed away in 1996, at the age of 81, but that did not stop efforts to
bring a long overdue recognition to a man who was never acknowledged as the one man
who made the difference between life and death for the lives of the last living
6 men on the USS Arizona on that horrific Sunday, December 7, 1941.
PBS will be airing his story.
President Donald Trump posthumously awarded the Bronze Medal of Valor to George’s
daughter in 2017.
The ceremony took place on the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii–it was the first
time a medal ceremony had ever taken place at the Memorial.
But there would never have been a ceremony or a PBS story had not two of the
surviving 6 men, who now in their mid to upper 90’s, made it their mission to
make certain that Petty Officer George was recognized for saving their lives
as well as for his actions of bravery and heroism.
In a previous article written in an Arizona newspaper, the story ran that,
“Donald Stratton, 94, and Lauren Bruner, 96, will go to Washington, D.C.,
next month and hope to meet with lawmakers,
Navy officials and representatives from the White House.
Their goal is to secure a posthumous award for the sailor, Joe George.
“He should have the Navy Cross,” Stratton told The Arizona Republic last year.
“He saved six people’s lives. Joe saved six lives and he didn’t get crap.”
Their decades-long efforts were finally acknowledged when Petty Officer Joe George
was officially honored by the Navy and the US Government on December 7, 2017…
76 years after the very day he risked everything for his fellow sailors.
The story is full of the providence of God’s hand.
George had been confined to his to repair ship which was tethered to the
USS Arizona there at the Pearl Harbor docks…
Had George not gotten into trouble the day prior for brawling in town,
he would not have been on the repair ship, confined to quarters.
He would not have seen those last 6 men stranded on the deck of a ship engulfed
With the final bomb dropped, engulfing the Arizona in a massive fireball,
had George not defied the orders given to cut the tether, he would
have left those 6 men to perish in the flames joining the other 1177 men
who perished on that ship that life-changing day in 1941.
Instead, he managed to throw another rope 70 feet to the stranded men, who quickly
tied it off and began the hand over hand climb from the burning and sinking
death trap to the safety of the repair ship.
Once the men were safely aboard, the tether was cut allowing the repair ship
to slip away unharmed from the dying Arizona.
Stratton and Bruner both acknowledge that George saved much more than 6 men.
He saved the lives of the children and the grandchildren and the
great-grandchildren that would grow from those 6 men.
Generations of families now exist because of the bravery of one man.
Stories of men like Petty Officer Joe George are so important.
They remind us of what was.
They remind us of what we can be.
They remind us how fortunate we are and just how much we owe to one another,
our fellow human beings.
They remind us, a currently hate-filled and divided people,
that we are better together then we are separate.
To forget such stories, allowing them to slip away into the fog of the past
is not an option.
We are who we are because of who they were.
I somehow doubt that many of our current day, angst-ridden, hate-filled,
angry progressive liberal culture understands the gravity of the actions of men
like Petty Officer Joe George nor of the lasting impact such actions have had
on our own lives today.
If we opt to ignore and forget our past, we are bound to repeat our mistakes.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.