09 January, 2006

A while back, before blogs infested the internet, I wrote editorial columns and emailed them to anyone who was interested. I ran across one of my favorites the other day. Here it is. It was written around Thanksgiving time, but the theme is universal. Hope you enjoy! :) (the sub refrenced here was the inspiration.for the movie U-571)

In this season of Thanksgiving, we have much as Americans to be thankful for. There is, for many people the obvious, a hot turkey dinner with all the fixings, friends, family and a roof over our heads.

Giving Thanks to Those Who Deserve Our Thanks. There is, however, much more to be thankful for.

I had the opportunity this weekend to visit Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. While there, I took the tour of the USS Pampanito. It is a WWII Balao class fleet submarine. While on the boat it made me think. And as I thought about what I was looking at, what I was walking through, I gained a much greater appreciation for the sacrifice that the men and women in uniform make on a daily basis for us.

Don’t get me wrong, I have always respected the military, and admired those who give for the greatest nation on the planet. But until now, that has always been a passive respect.

On the tour, we went in the sub and with the aid of a hand-held player, we hear the voices of the actual sailors who served on that small craft. I say small, but the craft of just over 300 feet was home to 80 men for months at a time.

I make no claim that I can understand what it is like to be stationed on the sub, I have spent 30 minutes aboard a decommissioned sub, docked at the bay, however one of the things that often goes un-anticipated is how small it is, how cramped the quarters are, and how dangerous everyday life aboard a sub is. The rooms were cramped with the 6 people that were at the same point of the tour as us. It was hard to imagine 80 people being there. On one of the tours, it was even worse, they picked up more than 70 British and Australian P.O.W.s drifting in the South China Sea, real life survivors.

The duties and responsibilities of the submariner is great. Think about it, if a ship has problems. It stops. Or worse, it starts to sink. You still have life rafts, and with luck you will get rescued. However, as witnessed by the recent Russian sub still at the bottom of the ocean. A mis-hap, more often than not, yields no survivors--especially at a depth of 400 feet or more.

The tour was very moving to say the least. We learned of more than 50 other American subs that never returned from a tour of duty. Their final resting place is forever unknown to the families of those brave sailors. The more than three thousand men who gave their lives for the fight for freedom. To protect the rights that our fore-fathers bleed for.

I thought of the election, and the media circus that it has become. I thought of the hundreds of over-seas absentee ballots that may not get counted because the party in power doesn’t like who they might be voting for.

Too many times the military gets the raw deal.

This isn’t right. Why is it that the professions that mean the most to this nation, are the ones that get the least respect, both in pay and in society. Why is it that the jobs least important to society pay millions to those who can throw a ball, or sing or act? How is that right?

It is time that the men and women who serve in the military get the respect that they should have coming to them. Too many soldiers and sailors are on food stamps. These are the ones who will protect us, so that we can continue to enjoy the freedoms listed in the Constitution.

If you ever have the chance to go to San Francisco, take the opportunity to tour the USS Pampanito. If nothing else, you will learn a bit of history that no textbook can teach.

As you read this, take the time to reflect on the freedoms that we enjoy. Take the time to thank those in the military who you know, both those who are still with us, and those who have gone before us. And most importantly, remember that while we are free to enjoy the many freedoms that we as Americans enjoy, democracy only works if we do. Get involved, if it is nothing more than going to a PTA or a local city council meeting.

Please forward this to those who you know in the Armed Services, I would like as many of them as possible to know that there are people who support them, and respect what they do.

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