My father always got up early, at 5:30 am. It was one of his disciplines that really paid off.
In January, 1941, he came of age and enlisted early in the US Army Air Corps, well before the United States entered WWII. He knew that the World War, then centered in Europe, might spread; so, he was an early recruit to fight against persecution.
He trained to be a tail-gunner on the B-17, the most technologically advanced aircraft at the time. The tail gunner looked away from where the plane was heading and defended it from attacks from the rear.
After training, he was stationed at Hickam Air Field, part of the military base at Pearl Harbor in Oahu, Hawaii. This seemed like a very cushy place to be stationed. Honolulu, then, was a small backwater town and Hawaii was at the tropical edge of the world.
Until December 7, 1941.
My father was up early at 5:30 that Sunday morning. He headed out for views of the harbor sunrise and was climbing a tree nearby when the Japanese attacked. Like most he didn’t really know what was happening and why so many planes were swooping in. It was so unexpected. Then he saw the bombs hit the ships in Pearl Harbor and then they hit his barracks.
He scrambled down quickly from his tree, but some shrapnel caught him in his right leg as he was diving for cover. It was mayhem.
Later that day, he was patched up. He was fully recovered 6 weeks later and back in service, ready to fight at the earliest possibility.
I admired his tenacity, dedication and resiliency. It was the kind of dedication and resiliency that got him up every morning at 5:30. And that probably saved his life on December 7.
Being up and ready is important in life. Being open to new opportunities that may come along to early adopters. Being willing and open to try something because you may have been one of the first to see it.
And being resilient. We all get knocked down, but we have to get back up to fight the good fight even when we encounter dark days.
These are lessons from my father that are particularly relevant as we remember November 11, Veterans Day.