Bound by Blood and Memories
Being in Washington for the memorial's dedication brought powerful and deep emotions to the surface.
It was as if ghosts were looking over Obie Banz's shoulder when he stood near the memorial during a brief visit Friday.
"I kept looking for somebody," he said, apologizing for the tears running down his cheeks. "I lost the best friend I ever had. He was aboard a cruiser when it was shot at and sank. I kept looking for him. I felt he was there somehow."
Then Obie Banz recalled standing at his battle station below the turret early one morning as a torpedo streaked through the water, missing his ship but exploding as it hit an aircraft carrier nearby. The sailors spent days picking up body parts that would be sent home.
"I very seldom, even in my own mind, reminisce," he said. "I've just dealt it out of my mind. But now it's coming back."
Leonard has found himself immersed in the same pool of painful memories.
Two of his best friends were on planes that crashed while on missions, killing everyone aboard, he said.
"Especially on days such as Memorial Day or Veterans Day, or on days like this, it brings those times back very vividly," he said.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
Leonard Banz, 82, holds a U.S. flag as he and brother Don, foreground, watch jets fly over dedication ceremonies at the World War II Memorial.
(Photos Michael Williamson -- The Washington Post)