Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Short History Lesson

Let’s talk about this weekend

Once upon a time, my Grandfather Eugene Brick joined the Navy and fought in the Pacific during World War II. His destroyer, the USS Drexler (DD-741) was sunk by two kamikaze planes in the Battle for Okinawa. Though it was under water less than 45 seconds after impact, Grampa survived along with about half his shipmates.

Fast forward 40 years…

During the 80s, Grampa started seeking out survivors from the Drexler. Soon, he found enough to hold a reunion. The reunion has met annually since then, each year finding more survivors, family of survivors, family of those who didn’t survive. The Drexler Reunion has been a source of knowledge, solace, healing and closure for decades.

Fast forward 20 years…

One person drawn to the reunion was Risa Morimoto, a documentary producer. She came to interview survivors for her film, Wings of Defeat, about kamikaze. As things worked out, Wings of Defeat became a big deal in Japan. Grandpa and another shipmate were flown out to Tokyo for the premier. They toured Honshu and Kyushu, answered press questions and met with survivors from the Kamikaze.

This past weekend was the US premier of Wings. For the event, Grampa met two kamikaze survivors in San Francisco. I was privileged to go with him and got to see these three men spend time together. Amazing as it may sound, within minutes they were just three old fellas telling stories.

It’s humbling and inspiring. If these men can forgive one another and share a drink, work together….who can’t?

Thanks for listening.

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