The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I still miss her

Yesterday I wrote about an old man's dying wish to walk the decks of the destroyer he served on as a young man. Those of you who served in the navy, any navy, understand the emotion involved. Or, at least, can understand it somewhat. I will try to explain it for those who do not have a similar emotional attachment.

Think about your first car or your college or high school. The memories might not be all rosy. There might be some memories you'd like to forget but not all. There's a deep seated attachment formed that is almost impossible to sever. You may have been miserable in high school but you still recall friends you miss and moments you cherish. I didn't go to college except for a few semesters in community colleges so I can't directly relate to that but I would guess a strong bond to it is formed. These are similar.

On the Military and Military History channels, there are little presentations with remembrances by former crew members. All, of late, have been about the U.S.S. Enterprise of WWII. She was decommissioned, reduced to scrap, and replaced by a newer, nuclear-powered, version. The former crew members speak of her as being "home." So, too, do the former crew members of other ships whose stories are told on some of the programs.

My ship was commissioned too late to have seen any action in WWII. She was launched in August of 1945, a year before I was born. She did see some action in the Korean War and then again in the Vietnam War... "my" war... but nothing compared to what those who served during WWII did.

A ship is not simply a vessel, it is home. Even if you live ashore most of the time you are in your home port, it is home. But that feeling takes time. If you are only aboard a year, you probably will not feel it. I think it would take at least two years to develop the kind of feeling I am talking about. It took that much for me, anyway. At around that point in time, I began to realize that I saw her as something I was a part of, something that was a part of me.

You go through good times and bad. You experience frustrations and satisfactions. You know she had flaws (our hull had a crack that resisted repair for a year) but you appreciate her strengths... especially in rough seas. The crew become your "family."

I wrote once about how The ship is "alive" while at sea, the constant vibration of the engines, and from the movement in the water, makes the steel deck feel soft. Once in port, tied up, with the engines shut down and silent, the deck becomes hard as concrete. The ship feels "dead."
The human mind is a funny thing... it gives life to inanimate things.

The attachment lingers for more years than you can imagine.


Joanne Noragon said...

My nephew joined the navy and trained as a cook. He was in for close to ten years and he was a mighty fine cook, but not a sailor. Being at sea was not for him. I wonder what kind of life he ascribes to ships.

Douglas said...

Joanne, I had a shipmate who would turn green and get sick as soon as the last line was released and the ship was underway. I always wondered why he chose the navy instead of the army or the air force. And some people like the sea but find life aboard a navy vessel is not their cup of tea. I never had that problem. I enjoyed being at sea much more than being in port.