Manila Bay, Philippines
December 7th, 1941
The soldier walked in the cooling sands of Manila Bay. He marveled at the warm water lapping at his ankles, so different from the icy cold spray of the Atlantic Ocean. The golden sun hung low and large over a luminous sea. Sunlight and water fused together to send up a burst of joyous color in layered shades of red and orange lightening up into the darkening sky overhead whose blue had turned a deep indigo purple. The sun rose and set differently here in the Philippines.
As he stood alone on the soft white sand, he felt a comfortable inconsequence of being amongst all of nature’s beauties. The vastness of the sky and sea was overpowering to a young farm boy. He was a mere ripple in the ocean blue. A few months ago, he’d been sitting on his porch listening to the sounds of a waking farm under a docile dawn sky. Colors at home were muted pastels, pretty and soft. Here, life was vibrant and sharp with rich details.
The soldier waited peacefully, soaking in the last embers of fading light. As the sun set lower into the sea, its setting rays outlined the ominous black silhouettes of the U.S. naval ships lurking in the bay, leaving the farm boy turned soldier with an indelible imprint of beauty and danger. Evening enveloped him suddenly, as if a vast curtain had been dropped over the sky. Leaving him chilled and strangely frightened in the completeness of the dark.