Easter: A Moveable Feast

Shining like a light house in the gloomy, stormy seas of the coronavirus is the promise of Easter Sunday, a day of rebirth, renewal, and resurrection.

Ironically, in the United States, Easter begins on the American Territory of Guam (“Where America’s Day Begins,” because of time zone configuration) and where the aircraft carrier, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) is currently in partial quarantine because of the coronavirus.

Since we were kicked out of the Philippines in 1992 and as the Japanese are complaining more and more every day about our presence on Okinawa, the island of Guam has become our most strategic military asset west of Hawaii.

I’ve spent a good bit of time on Guam, and it’s not surprising that authorities are placing the quarantined Roosevelt sailors into civilian hotels, because there’re not many vacant beds available at the Naval Station.

There’re probably some, however, at Andersen Air Force Base at the other end of the island. Back during the Vietnam War, I used to watch the B-52 Stratofortresses take off from there on their bombing runs along Route 1 during Operation Arc Light.

Today, luckily, Guam has lots of first-rate hotels as it is a favorite honeymoon destination for newly-weds from mainland Japan.

The PX on the Guam Naval Base was the only place I know of in the world where you could buy a genuine Rolex watch at rock-bottom prices, even cheaper than the factory outlet in Singapore.

If your shipmates heard that you were about to transit through Guam, they would load you down with orders for “Submariners,” “GMT Masters,” and “Oyster Perpetuals.”

Leaving the island, I’d be carrying so many watches I’d feel like one of those furtive, itinerate watch salesmen in Times Square, or maybe some back street in Pusan, selling knock-off designer watches out of my inside coat pockets, except mine were real and they were already paid for.

Today, you’d never get through Customs.

As an aside, I’m totally ashamed to learn that Big Navy has just fired the CO of the Roosevelt for standing up for his crew during the coronavirus pandemic.

When you think of Easter, a kaleidoscope of memories floods your mind – where you were in a particular year, what you were doing, who you were with, what they said.

My default is about going to church early on Easter Sunday at Carnes Missionary Baptist Church in southern Forrest County with my mama when I was a boy. She didn’t drive, but I did, although I was only about 11 or 12 years old. I could barely see over the steering wheel or reach the clutch and brake pedals of the truck, but they say that God watches over children and fools, so I guess I had double coverage.

Another Easter memory is of a sunrise service onboard my ship in Pearl Harbor.

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