“Did You Know Me Then?” A Pearl Harbor Poem

We had a customer request an online copy of the Pearl Harbor poem that one of our guides recites whenever he goes to the Arizona Memorial. The poem is called “Did You Know Me Then”, by John Vierra. The USS Arizona Memorial  

DID YOU KNOW ME THEN

I was born in a small town in the mid-west or was it a large city back east? I can’t remember anymore. Did you know me then? I remember getting the chores done so I could go to the Saturday matinee or was it the baseball game. I can’t remember anymore. Did you know me then? I remember the depression of the 1930’s and Papa working so hard to care for the family, Anyway he could with odd jobs. I especially remember Mama making ends meet. Papa was stern with the family but, Mama sweet Mama , what an angel she was. Did you know me then? I remember the swimming hole that we swam in, the bicycle rides, the picnics. Did you know me then? I remember school, Boy, do I remember School. I remember the soda shop and the good times after school. I remember Mary the girl next door or was it Sue the girl I met at the dance. I can’t remember anymore. Did you know me then? I remember people talking about the war in Europe, But we’re in America why worry about what’s going on there. This is America, the land of opportunity. We would never get involved in their problems. Did you know me then? I remember my brother Bob and I enlisting in the Navy together. I remember Mama insisting that we serve on the same ship together, so we could take care of each other. Did you know us then? I remember our being assigned to the battleship USS Arizona, she was a beautiful sight to behold. I remember when we were told we were to be home ported in Pearl Harbor, Honolulu. Wow! Hula girls, grass skirts, beautiful beaches. Paradise, a dream come true. Did you know us then? I remember December 6, we all went to Bloch Arena to watch the battle of the music competition. The music played by the bands was great. Did you know us then? I remember Sunday, December 7, not too much going on, just lying around. Then that thundering noise that broke the Sunday morning quiet. It sounded like hundreds of aircraft. I remember the explosion, my breath and whole being taken away from me. Did you know me then? I can hear Mama crying, Papa hasn’t cried yet. I want to tell him “It’s ok to cry , Papa, every tear is a prayer” We’ve been home ported here for a very long time. I can see our buddies aboard other ships saluting as they pass by. I hope they see me returning their salute. Do they know me? My buddies and I are really at peace now. Pray for us! Did you know me? Then if you knew us, remember us always. – John Vierra, Park Ranger, USS Arizona Memorial

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