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The Need For Closure
Topic: Why Does It Matter?
Posted by Everyman - 13:20:33 EST

It's obviously important, and today - this day that will live in infamy forever - is a good day to note the importance of knowing as much as can be known (sometimes very little) about the loss of a loved one, a family member.

One man - and likely countless more - has dedicated his life to achieving such closure for as many as possible.

ray emory

Ray Emory could not accept that more than one quarter of the 2,400 Americans who died at Pearl Harbor were buried, unidentified, in a volcanic crater.

And so he set out to restore names to the dead.

Emory, a survivor of the attack, doggedly scoured decades-old documents to piece together who was who. He pushed, and sometimes badgered, the government into relabeling more than 300 gravestones with the ship names of the deceased. And he lobbied for forensic scientists to exhume the skeletons of those who might be identified.

On Friday, the 71-year anniversary of the Japanese attack, the Navy and National Park Service will honor the 91-year-old former sailor for his determination to have Pearl Harbor remembered, and remembered accurately.

I've walked among the graves of the unknowns in that volcanic crater in the Pacific - the Punchbowl, as it is called - and I can appreciate the staggering task of trying to know who died that day, and where, and how.

At 91 years of age, Ray Emory knows that he will soon join those whose identities - whose stories - he has learned with his diligent refusal to leave them to dwell in the mists of history, too often unknown or forgotten by the living.

We stand in awe of his lifelong commitment to those who did not survive that day, who gave their lives that our freedoms might endure.

We salute him.


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