We doubt we will ever see a photo that captures what today is all about so poignantly as this one, snapped six years ago in Dallas, Texas.
Pictured are Pearl Harbor survivor Houston James and Iraq War survivor Staff Sgt. Mark Graunke Jr. Graunke was a member of an ordnance disposal team who lost his left hand, his left eye,his right leg, and the thumb and forefinger from his right hand while attempting to defuse a bomb in Iraq in 2003. James, on the other hand, still clearly bore the psychological wounds of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor all those years later.
Incidentally, for those who care to look beyond this stunning photograph, a bit more about James' experiences in Oahu on Dec. 7, 1941 can be found here:
“I thought every one of those airplanes over Ford Island was personally trying to seek me out. I was trying to time my runs between buildings to get down to the hangar between airplanes flying over me,” James says. “I was scared to death.”
We don't think calling this two men heroes is at all a stretch. But we suspect they'd settle for a simpler word, like "comrades."
Today, here at Niagara Times, we offer a respectful bow of the head, the closest thing we can offer to a much-deserved salute, not just to Graunke and James, but to veterans everywhere, so many of whom gave all for their country—so that we wouldn't have to.