Ed was only 17 when Pearl Harbor was attacked on Dec. 7, 1941. In fact, he was there that day as a Navy Petty Officer, moving in an open boat between the exploding battleships and plucking survivors out of the water.
Fast forward to the present, and Ed sat in his wheelchair in an Oregon long-term care facility, waiting eagerly for his second dose of COVID-19 vaccine. With his Pearl Harbor cap pulled down tight, he faced me and a row of local news cameras and reporters, recounting the harrowing experience that won him a medal for bravery.
“It was a harbor of hell, I’ll tell you,” he said. “That was the day I became a man.”
So many decades after serving heroically in one of the deadliest conflicts the world has ever known, Ed has had to face yet another terrible ordeal — this time, a global pandemic.
The virus has already taken the life of one of his dear friends, and it has left him and countless other seniors vulnerable and isolated. So like everything else he’s done in his life, he stepped up bravely to do what was necessary and got vaccinated.
“We meet again,” he told the nurse as she approached with the needle and gently jabbed it into his arm. “I didn’t feel a thing. I’m disappointed,” he said when she removed it. Then turning to the cameras, he added, “She does a good job. I think maybe she hypnotized me.”
Naturally, a reporter asked what he’d tell someone else about taking the vaccine.
“Get right in there and get it,” he said without hesitation. “I’ve had shots all my life, but there’s nothing to this one. I was surprised when she was done, because I didn’t think she’d started. It was a pleasure, really.”
In a life book-ended by two hellish, worldwide conflagrations, Ed is still pushing through with courage, grace, positivity and humor.
Not a bad lesson for the rest of us.