There’s a magical place on a rugged cliff at the northwest corner of San Francisco with stunning views of the ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge. The scent of cypress and fresh sea air sweeps you off your feet as you walk the trail to the memorial honoring the men who died on the battleship USS San Francisco.
The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal is front and center with those who gather here every Memorial Day weekend. It’s a beautiful free event that’s rich with stories of heroism and bravery.
This year, 94-year old Lieutenant Colonel John Stevens USMC Retired took to the podium and was interviewed by his son – J.R. “Steve” Stevens – about the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Lieutenant Colonel Stevens is a highly decorated veteran recently honored by the Marine Communication Council as 2015 Marine of the Year. He is also founding Board member and Secretary of the Korean War Memorial Foundation.
It’s a brilliant history lesson for those who brave the bitter wind and 50-degree temps in May to absorb the knowledge. Everyone in the audience receives a packet of information with maps and details of Guadalcanal, a list of every man killed and wounded on the USS San Francisco as well as information on all American warships damaged and sunk during that battle. The victory at Guadalcanal removed the threat to communications between Australia, New Zealand and the USA during WWII.
It’s one of many journeys by our nation’s heroes discovered at this event. I’ve been attending since 2008 and have found there’s a deep desire by the men and women of our armed forces to share their legacy. Events like these are a treasure to hold onto as long as we can.