Remembering times of grief, Pearl Harbor and beyond

Remembering times of grief, Pearl Harbor and beyond

Letter to the Editor,

On Dec. 7, 1941, Japan attacked our naval fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, sinking ships and destroying many lives. In a radio message the following day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt broke the news to the nation. “Yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” The nation was put to grief.

But an earlier war, grinding on from 1914 to 1918, brought death and grief to many. A Canadian physician wrote these moving lines: “In Flanders fields, the poppies blow. Between the crosses, row on row. That mark the graves where once we stood. But now we lie in Flanders fields.”

And earlier still, the grief-worn, the death-worn years of the Civil War brought these immortal lines that echo the grief that came with the death of Abraham Lincoln, by poet Edwin Markham: “He went down as when a lordly cedar, green with boughs, goes down with a great shout upon the hills and leaves a lonesome place against the sky. His shout is still upon the hills, and his place still an empty one against the sky.”

And harking back still further, from the psalms of David: “Mine eye is consumed because of grief … For my life Is spent with grief.”

And of Christ himself, our great redeemer, as told by Isaiah the prophet, “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.”

And for us who have lost our loved ones, they left us in Markham’s words “with a great shout upon the hills” and left “a lonesome place” in our memories at our Thanksgiving tables.

And we are mindful, too, of the likeness of grief that befalls the many who have lost loved ones on the battlefields and the footpaths of the earth trodden by the many displaced persons.

Surely, we do well to pause in grief with our hearts at half-mast, too, as we remember the grief, the loss that came to many with the accident on Interstate Highway 70 involving a Pioneer Trails bus. And surely, these are times that try our hearts, for as the song favorite from times past goes, “The dark skies are weeping with dew drops as rain.”

Paul Stutzman


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