US Navy Memorial Foundation… Quote from this website…
“The Lone Sailor statue represents all people who ever served, are serving now or who are yet to serve in the Navy. The Lone Sailor is a composite of the U.S. Navy bluejacket, past, present and future. He’s called the Lone Sailor.”
I never emotionally connected with my father’s US Navy career until researching and writing my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, in 2011. I didn’t know him well until long after he passed away in 1998. I didn’t know my mother either…who is still with us at age 96 living in Reno, Nevada. Growing up as a military child during the 1950’s and early 1960’s was hell. Carrying around the emotional baggage of a toxic childhood was worse than hell for decades until learning more about the lives of my parents during the years leading up to WWII and afterwards. I know them both now, far better than those years now lost in time and burdened with anger toward the pain of child abuse and emotional neglect. I am no longer angry!
I stood by the “Lone Sailor” statue in Long Beach yesterday for a long time. I was deeply moved… I thought about my Dad and what he was like when joining the US Navy in 1936. Dad spent his early years as a young sailor in Long Beach, California, no doubt standing in this very place looking out at sea dreaming about the future and what would come. His first ship duty was aboard the Battleship USS Tennessee following boot camp in 1936. I know he had hope and was excited about life. Dad was outgoing, an extrovert, kind of like me. He and mother were married in Long Beach in 1940 and experienced some of the happiest times of their lives until he departed on the USS West Virginia on a secret mission at that time during the summer of 1941. My oldest brother, Jerry, was born in September 1941, three months before the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
I thought about my own US Navy service during the early 1960’s and felt close to Dad while reading the engraved memorial bricks at the “Lone Sailor Statue” site. I also thought about Dad’s final words in his own written account (discovered after my book was published) while standing on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, after abandoning ship and swimming for safety after the USS West Virginia was bombed. He and his shipmates watched the Battleship USS Arizona and the other ships from the US Navy Pacific Fleet engulfed in flames and smoke, and said, “People like myself could go on and on, but that would take a book!” (click highlighted text for the full written account). I am proud of my father, Vernon, and all the “Lone Sailor(s)” who served. I am very grateful to have been inspired to write this book, which provided the personal strength to start my own journey of healing and forgiveness.
Steve Sparks “I am my father’s son!”