Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Aboard the USS New Jersey
Apologies for the light blogging of late. I've been on the road recently, and one of my journeys took me to the City of Brotherly Love, also known as Philadelphia. I enjoy history, so I spent my off hours wandering the city's historic district where the framework of this great nation began to take shape.
During one of my wanderings, I came across a pamphlet advertising tours of the USS New Jersey. My east-coast geography is still a bit on the weak side, so I'd forgotten that New Jersey borders Pennsylvania, but I jumped at the chance to see one of the biggest, baddest, and most feared battleships ever to sail under a US flag.
The New Jersey's history is a long and her decorations are many. Her 16" guns have projected American power in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, and other global hotspots. To help you understand exactly what a 16" shell can do, imagine a projectile weighing roughly as much as a VW Bug being launched from a position at sea, landing miles away in a pre-designated area about the size of your office cubicle - and blowing the surrounding location to smithereens.
No wonder the Marines love these ships for amphibious assault support.
In case you were wondering, this picture is found in the dictionary next to the term "Guns, Big Ass".
My grandfather's generation designed, built, and produced the most effective naval artillery the world has ever seen. Nothing in any navy's arsenal, past or present, has been proven to be more accurate or lethal than these guns.
A side note - there are four remaining Iowa class battleships. Two, the New Jersey and the Missouri, have been relegated to museum status. I have not visited the Missouri, but the New Jersey looks like she could be put to sea on a few days notice.
The two other battleships, the Iowa and the Wisconsin, are currently part of the Navy's Mothball fleet. As of March 17, 2006, both vessels were struck from the Naval Vessel Register as part of the 2006 Defense Appropriations Act. Needless to say, the Marines are not happy about this.
End of digression.
Touring the New Jersey take awhile. Though she may be a huge ship, she's also full of confined spaces and cramped quarters. I'm not a small person, so my skull now has a few more dents in it courtesy of the New Jersey's steel plating. My group was the last to be aboard the New Jersey that day. As we made our way up to the navigation bridge, a museum curator asked us to turn off the active radar and secure the bridge for the night. I'll add that to my list of cool things I've gotten to do.
Ships like the New Jersey are one of the reasons I like history. Its more than just books, dates, and facts. History is made and determined by people - people like those sailors and marines who took their turn in places like the USS New Jersey and stood watch in defense of liberty. You don't get than sense from a book. You need to go where these people were, see what they saw, and feel what they felt. Only then do you begin to understand the "why" behind the dates and places.
Thanks for the living history lesson, Big J.
Here endeth the lesson.
Monday, May 29, 2006
Memorial Day 2006
We will stand and guard though the angels sleep
While through the ages safely keep
The Mansions of the Lord.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
United 93 - A Review Of The Experience
I don’t do many movie reviews – probably for the simple reason it takes nearly an Act of Congress for me to get time away from life to actually go and spend a few hours in a dark room watching a large screen.
For United 93 I made the time.
For me, the film re-defined the term intense. It was like watching the first 20 some minutes of Saving Private Ryan. The story is told in real time. You sit and watch the events of that Tuesday morning in September. You know how the story ends.
No corners are cut in the telling of this story. Most, if not all, sides of the conflict are explored – from the FAA’s reaction to the heart wrenching realization that the most powerful military on the face of the earth can do nothing but sit and watch the events unfold on CNN like the rest of America.
In the end it all came down to a group of ordinary Americans making the decision to fight back.
The word "No" is a very powerful term in the English language. People say it every day, some more so than others. When "No" is said by a unified group of people seeking to throw off the oppression of others, it becomes even more powerful.
Americans have done a lot of that in their short history. In 1776, 56 men came together in Philadelphia and collectively told the English King George "No." They pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor in the hopes they might bestow the blessings of liberty upon themselves and their posterity. They banded together in Independence Hall to fight what they considered to be worth dying for.
225 years later, Americans again gathered together (not far from Philadelphia) to fight this same battle – this time in the skies over Ohio and Pennsylvania. They gathered in the aft section of an aircraft whose pilot was intent on destroying more of this great nation. They stood up to the Islamofacist Murdering Thugs and said "No." Not on our plane. Not on our watch. They voted. They took a stand, defended this nation – giving the last full measure of devotion not far from the battlefields of the last war waged upon the soil of the Continental United States.
I watched this film and every minute reminded me of one basic fact: I am still angry. Angry at the thugs who came into my country, killed my countrymen, and destroyed part of my heritage. Angry at those who would attempt to excuse such behavior and appease those who want to do more of it.
United 93 should be required viewing for all Americans. It is not a film to be viewed with lightness of heart. It is a film to be experienced, and remembered.
Here endeth the lesson.