Seventy-seven years ago, our country was drawn into World War II on Dec. 7. It is a date and place that most adults with a passing interest in history know well, but how many know that a local family lost a son aboard the USS Arizona that day?
Everett Ray Belt Jr. lived with his family on Big Bend Road and was a 1936 graduate of Kirkwood High School. He joined the Marines in 1940 and was aboard ship that fateful day and it is where his body remains today as part of the Pearl Harbor Memorial.
Kirkwood and Glendale also have a wonderful memorial to the men and women of our communities who lost their lives during military service, but unfortunately it is incomplete.
Like Everett Belt, there are over 20 other service members who are missing from our memorial, including Fireman Bill Doney who died during the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. Also missing is Corporal Philip Davidson; he died in the battle for Mount Suribachi where a U.S. flag was planted the following day.
A photograph of the Marines raising that flag on Iwo Jima is one of the most famous images ever taken. It was only made possible by the incredible sacrifice of Corporal Davidson and so many like him who we will never know by name.
These stories have been discovered through a service project with students at St. Peter School who honor all the men and women on our memorial and participate in the annual Memorial Day ceremony.
Our veterans memorial was erected in a time when information was not as readily available as it is today, so I hope someday we will be able to add the names of all those deserving the honor. Until then, please remember these unnamed men, women and their families; men such as Gerrard Mason of South Clay Avenue who died on Christmas Day in 1944 with 762 other Americans aboard the troopship Leopoldville.
As you gather with family and friends this holiday season, think about including a prayer for them or share a toast in their honor, then follow it up with a second one for peace and good will to all.