One of my deployed kids received a link to a blog in an email and shared the link and her reply with us. Below are excerpts from the blog, then her reply. (The URL to the full blog is at the end.)
In 1988, I was fortunate to be Cruise Director when the Royal Viking Star did what I believe turned out to be their last Pacific Memories Cruise. With General Rockefeller and several other honorary speakers on board we called at several historic islands like Guadalcanal, Okinawa and the much lesser known island Biak, Indonesia. That day in Biak was definitely one I’ll never forget!
The Battle of Biak was part of McArthur’s New Guinea campaign. There were strategic airfields on the island built by the interned local Indonesian population at Japanese gunpoint. The Americans finally broke through the Japanese defenses on June 22, 1944, captured its air strips and liberated the locals.
When our ship approached the island it was something not to be believed! Lining the coastline, many rows deep, were an estimated 10,000 locals. We learned later that many of these people traveled on foot, bike, horse, canoe and in the beds of trucks over the span of a couple days, from all parts of the island, to be there to catch a glimpse of the Americans who had liberated many of them and their relatives from their harsh occupiers.
At the end of the day, all the people who had lined the shore were still there. A bunch of us from the cruise ship jumped into the water to cool off. A bunch of locals joined us until we were surrounded with swimmers. When local swimmers approached me, I reached out to them with a “high five” and there were big smiles and laughter for a few unforgettable minutes!
My kid shared her reply to the email with us:
Thank you for sharing this!! I loved it! I am so proud of our history and all those who came before me. I hope that we are living up to the standards that they set.
My mom’s friend Marianne, was 5 when Holland was liberated, and her first memory of “an American” was of an American Soldier who gave her a candy bar as they were liberating her town.
I met a man outside of Ft Hood who works in a restaurant that Soldiers frequent. He is so proud of his job serving the Soldiers because when he was a child in Kosovo, he said the American Soldiers saved him and his town from being destroyed. He credits the Army for saving his childhood.
It’s amazing to me what my brothers in arms have done, and I hope that one day, my children will be able to come to Iraq and Afghanistan and hear something similar. I hope that we leave a positive impression on the people here; that to me is what will end up measuring the worth of our work here.