Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you (Deuteronomy 32:7).
The tapping stopped on Christmas Eve. The year was 1941. The place was Pearl Harbor. By then the fires had burned out. The memories, however, would burn for lifetimes.
The sight of the dead on December 7th, the moans of the wounded, and the smell of the burning ships would be seared into the minds of those who were there and survived. It was indeed a “day of infamy.” But it did not end when the sun slipped under the edge of the Pacific on that day. Sailors were trapped inside of the capsized vessels. They tapped on the hull of the ship to let would-be rescuers know that they were still alive—and waiting.
Heroic efforts ensued. With blowtorches and jacks and sweat, swarms of sailors attacked the walls of the steel prisons. Many were freed. Many were saved. But not all.
It was heart-wrenching to hear the tapping come from places that the rescuers could not reach. It was gut-wrenching to listen to the taps echoing out day after day, becoming softer and softer—until they finally stopped.
Those sailors would always remember the shock of the sound of bombs exploding. And they would never forget the anguish of the sound of shipmates pitifully tapping. They would spend the rest of their life remembering.
It is well for us to remember, too.
“Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past…” This is not just wise advice; it is the command of the Lord God.
The past teaches lessons about ourselves and our God. We learn about human pride and viciousness—and frailty. We learn about divine justice and power. We learn the meaning of grace, of amazing undeserved love.
We learn about the need for help from heaven; the need for a divine Rescuer.
We need to remember the sorrow that is part of Memorial Day. And then we need to remember Christmas, Good Friday and Easter—the answer to all sorrow.
The echo of the repeated taps on steel that came from below water still reaches America’s shores.
On this Memorial Day a somber sound will float over many a place where our warriors rest. To the 1941 tapping on steel we somberly reply with the sound of Taps—this time played with a trumpet
Those who know the closing words to the melody may whisper them softly:
Thanks and praise, For our days,
’Neath the sun, ‘Neath the stars,
‘Neath the sky,
As we go, This we know,
God is nigh.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain
and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military
Saturday evening worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday morning worship: 10:00 am