Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day

Bernadette, Ken, Zac and I went diving this morning out at Electric Beach. I was pretty nervous about it, seeing as the last time I tried diving at this spot I had a bad experience. (I'm not sure I wrote about that one - suffice it to say it was not a good day.) Granted that was more than four months ago now. Face the fear and do it anyway, right? So after a little bit of over-reacting on my part we made it out past the shore break and followed the reef out towards the exhaust tube. Electric Beach (also known as Kahe Point) is across the highway from, you guessed it, a power plant. There's a pipe that runs under the highway into the ocean that expels warm water attracting lots of sea life. It's a shallow dive, only 20-25 feet around the pipe, but it's always interesting.

I hadn't been diving since our manta ray dive on the Big Island in July. Time flies. I forgot how much I like it down there. We saw a turtle cruise by. I tried to remain motionless as the turtle came a little closer to check me out. It was the closest I've ever been to one. They really are amazingly graceful. Zac and I watched him get tossed around by the current of warm water being forced out of the pipe. The turtle seemed to enjoy it. A little later during the dive Zac got a little too close to the current as well and was jetted up to the surface. It was pretty comical watching him get shot to the surface. (It was shallow enough that we didn't need to worry about decompression sickness.) I laughed about as well as one can laugh while diving.

We also saw what I believe to be a great barracuda. The fish was not one that Zac or I had ever seen before. It looked much different than the other fish for two main reasons - 1.) Its size. It was about three feet long, but not skinny like a cornet fish. It was a more substantial. 2.) It's teeth. Yes. Teeth. They were kind of scary. Doing some research in our critter books once we got home, I concluded with a certain amount of confidence that we saw a great barracuda. Apparently they're like sharks in that they don't usually cause people trouble. Now if I was a little silver fish, I would have much to worry about from a barracuda. Some of the websites I consulted said that barracuda's are attracted to the sparkle of the silver fish so divers might want to consider leaving the sparkly stuff at home when diving. Also, they tend to get more confused about who to bite when the water is murky. The water was quite clear today. Phew.

On a more solemn note . . .

As we were driving home we heard this story on PRI's The World, brought to us locally by Hawaii Public Radio. It's the story of the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry and how they rescued the "Lost Battalion" of Texas National Guardsmen in WWII. The story is less than 10 minutes long, but it is worth your time. The members of the 442nd were Japanese-American. Many of them had family members in internment camps, yet they were fighting for us, working to save the lives of their fellow soldiers. What kind of extraordinary men do that? What kind of men say, "You took my family's home, you sent my family to live in a camp in the American West, you deprived my family of their rights, but I will fight for you, America. I will fight for you because of what you stand for. I believe in your dreams and ideals. And though you sometimes fail terribly at living up to those goals, I'm willing to fight and die for them."

Sacrifice. It's what Veterans Day is really about. Sacrificing their time, their physical and mental health, their lives. Many of our veterans are volunteers. Some were drafted. But all of them deserve a big thank you for doing what most of us can't or don't.

Happy Veterans Day.

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