Friday, December 6, 2013

Holidays II - Further Along the Journey

What Do You See? by Kurt Olson

Do you normally tend to see yourself as an optimist or a pessimist in life?  My tendency is to be a glass half-full type of guy. I tend to try and find the silver lining in things. I am also drawn to people who are optimistic and see what others can’t.

Back in school I remember reading about Chester Nimitz, a very famous U.S. Navy Commander who isn’t well known today. I remember him because he led the United States World War II efforts in the Pacific after Pearl Harbor, against incredible odds. Recently, I received an email about him that reminded me why I admire him; Chester Nimitz saw things others didn’t see. 
December 7, 1941 was one of the most tragic days in our United States history.  We were reeling from the shock of being attacked, because we didn’t think it could happen to us. We lost 3,800 men in that attack, as well as many of our battleships. But when General Nimitz surveyed Pearl Harbor, he made some interesting statements.

On Christmas Day, 1941, Adm. Nimitz was given a boat tour of the destruction wrought on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. Big sunken battleships and Navy vessels cluttered the waters everywhere you looked. As they returned to dock, the young helmsman of the boat asked, "Well Admiral, what do you think after seeing all of this destruction?" Admiral Nimitz's reply shocked everyone within the sound of his voice. Admiral Nimitz said, "The Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could ever make, or God was taking care of America. Which do you think it was?"  Shocked and surprised the young helmsman asked, "What do you mean by saying the Japanese made the three biggest mistakes an attack force ever made?"  Nimitz explained:

Mistake number one: the Japanese attacked on Sunday morning. Nine out of every ten crewmen of those ships were ashore on leave. If those same ships had been lured to sea and been sunk--we would have lost 38,000 men instead of 3,800.

Mistake number two: when the Japanese saw all those battleships lined up in a row, they got so carried away sinking those battleships, they never once bombed the dry docks opposite those ships. If they had destroyed our dry docks, we would have had to tow every one of those ships to America to be repaired. As it is now, the ships are in shallow water and can be raised. One tug can pull them over to the dry docks, and we can have them repaired and at sea by the time we could have towed them to America. And I already have crews ashore anxious to man those ships.

Mistake number three: every drop of fuel in the Pacific theater of war is in top of the ground storage tanks five miles away over that hill. One attack plane could have strafed those tanks and destroyed our fuel supply. That's why I say the Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could make, or God was taking care of America.”
My dad, who was drafted because of this war, joined the Navy where he served on the battleship USS Washington.  He talked about a Navy Admiral Chester Nimitz and what an inspiration he was to the men he led. When Nimitz asked his men for more effort to get the ships that were destroyed at Pearl Harbor back into action, he rolled up his sleeves and went to work alongside all of his men and it encouraged the troops.

I never served in the armed forces so I don’t know the horrors of war. But my dad told me a number of stories of this man that he observed from a distance. How he led his men against incredible odds and turned the tide of the war. He was the optimist of all optimists in the face of trials.
So what about you - where do you see yourself? Are you a glass half full or a glass half empty type of person when it comes to trials in this world?

Take stock of where you are on your grief journey and what you need to do to keep on going.  How is your attitude toward life?
Side note:  December 7th also has special meaning for me personally, because on that day back in 2002, my father passed away. Every time my dad and I talked when he was alive he told me that he loved me. He is one of the reasons I am so comfortable with who I am and my abilities.

For those who have served in the armed forces, I would just like to say thank you. I know it’s usually done on Veteran’s Day but can you really thank someone enough for putting themselves in harm’s way for our freedom?

This is the second in our series of three Holiday posts.   If you are viewing this through the email feed, please know you can find additional support and encouragement at our home site of


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