Photo essay of Quonset huts and a prayer to end all wars

On a nearby island, a boat ride away from my home on Kodiak Island, is a “village” of Quonset huts. These buildings once served as barracks for soldiers fighting the Aleutian Campaign during World War II. But today their corrugated metal shells succumb not to enemy fire but to falling trees, heavy snow loads, and perpetual moss.

One summer day, I stood in the middle of the village, surrounded by Sitka spruce trees and Quonset huts in various stages of decay. Other than an occasional chickadee’s chirrup, no manmade sounds reached my ears. Everywhere was moss: Evergreen, lush, and patiently muffling the clamors of war.

War is not someone else’s fault. We are all responsible for creating the misunderstandings that lead to conflict. An angry thought, ill will, fear, worry, jealousy, restlessness… it’s a long grocery list.

If I had a prayer to end all wars, it might go something like this:

Beloved God, who reminds us to live in harmony with our neighbors, help us to replace the age-old habit of war with compassion, empathy, and love. Keep us mindful that we are united, each by an equal measure, of the divine spark that flows through and binds all things. May we, by our actions each day, strive to become instruments of peace so that present and future generations may be blessed with relationships governed by faith, kindness, respect, and trust. Amen.

Quonset, WWII, World War 2, Kodiak, Alaska, moss, spruce forest, Long Island, prayer, peace

Its back long broken, this is probably my favorite Quonset hut in “the village” on Long Island. I stood here for quite sometime in the silence of the forest. (Photo by Marion Owen)

Quonset, WWII, World War 2, Kodiak, Alaska, moss, ferns, corrugated metal, spruce forest, Long Island, prayer, peace

I love the juxtaposition of ferns and twisted metal. (Photo by Marion Owen)

Quonset, WWII, World War 2, Kodiak, Alaska, moss, spruce forest, stove, Long Island, prayer, peace

A stove pipe pokes through a Quonset hut’s roof, or is it sinking down into the building? (Photo by Marion Owen)

Quonset, WWII, World War 2, Kodiak, Alaska, moss, spruce forest, orchids, Long Island, prayer, peace

A small forest of tiny, Twayblade orchids, each one smaller than your little pinkie’s fingernail, stand tall in front of a sagging Quonset hut. (Photo by Marion Owen)

Quonset, WWII, World War 2, Kodiak, Alaska, moss, spruce forest, Long Island, prayer, peace

I guess you could call this a rooftop garden in the making. (Photo by Marion Owen)

Quonset, WWII, World War 2, Kodiak, Alaska, moss, spruce forest, Long Island, prayer, peace

Oops. Looks like a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. When snow is falling, this becomes one of my favorite Quonset huts. Photo by Marion Owen

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9 Responses to Photo essay of Quonset huts and a prayer to end all wars

  1. luanne43 says:

    Always enjoyed going to this island! Great article and photos Marion. A pleasant trip down memory lane.

  2. Velda says:

    Interesting post which touches me because when I was born, and my parents came home from the hospital, our home was a Quonset on a former Naval Air Station which had been deeded to the State of California and was in use as a prison. My Dad was a Correctional Officer and were assigned to the front half of a hut as our home. The other side/half was another family. I’m still friends with someone I knew back then. A few years ago I visited the site, which I had last seen the day we left in ’53 before my 5th birthday. The huts were gone but the remaining buildings were as I recalled, out on the desert in Lancaster CA. Thanks for bringing back memories. Velda

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  3. Colleen says:

    Thank you Marion, I am reminded of how close to home your comments really are. I didn’t relate it to world wars as much as to parents fighting in their homes and people fighting in our churches, These comments are very fitting for our daily lives and how we react to our friends, relatives and neighbors. I have felt these emotions in my own life; they are normal human emotions but it is how we respond to these emotions that makes the difference between war and peace. May God bless us with peace in our homes, schools, churches, neighborhoods, cities, countries.and our world.

    • marionowen says:

      Close to home, yes, Colleen. It seems as though trying our best to behave well during the day’s skirmishes are the tests that help us grow the most. It’s work. Oh, boy, is it work. And I’ve found it begins by paying attention. The world does not want you to pay attention; rather it would have you pulled this way and that way–teasing us to look for happiness in material things, to ignore bad habits and so on. But true happiness is only found within… in the Inner life. And to seek it diligently is to swim against the current of society.

  4. Helen Williams says:

    Marion, Once again- your photos and thoughtful essays make me take notice of the finer things in life and a reminder to be thankful for them. This topic was very timely. I had once again been trolling Kodiak images on google for any photos of Kodiak that were from the early 70’s. My husband was in the Coast Guard and a quonset hut in Kodiak was our first home. I’ve been working on organizing photos and I realized that I didn’t have any pictures of the outside of the quonset hut. We lived in Erdman’s Trailer Park on Mill Bay Rd. Do you know of any resources where I might find pictures from that time/place? We always call our 3 year stint on Kodiak as a “three year honeymoon.”
    Thank you for posting your photos and thoughts-,
    Helen

    • marionowen says:

      Helen, I started traveling to Kodiak in the late 70s. I’m wondering if you contacted the daily newspaper, The Kodiak Daily Mirror, that they might have images. Or, another thought, there is a Facebook group called Friends of Kodiak that might be helpful. If you do Facebook, that is>

  5. Linda O. Webb says:

    Thank you so very much.

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