Reflections on the USS Yorktown

This weekend Jon, Anna, Will, and I went to Charleston to visit Patriot’s Point – where the USS Yorktown museum is – and to drive through the Festival of Lights – 3 miles of lights and activities – on James Island. It made for a long day, but also a fun one (mostly). Anna and Will were quite impressed with the Yorktown aircraft carrier and all the planes on it. Will kept shouting “plane” in his special way (he has no concept of an indoor voice). And he insisted on maneuvering the steep, narrow stairs himself. It was actually safer to hold his hand VERY tightly and let him “walk” the stairs than to wrestle with him, trying to carry him up or down! He has no fear (or common sense, I might add)!

As for me, I felt a sense of awe and humility on the Yorktown. There is something sacred about historic places, especially where people have given their all, and sometimes their lives. Active through World War II and Vietnam, the Yorktown and crew played a significant role in history. Seeing the kitchen, the sleeping quarters, the black and white photos of war… what was it like to have been there? It was a different world. I’m not sure today’s media would allow us to win World War II today… too many casualties, too high a cost, too much sacrifice. I heard a woman comment near the Vietnam Base Camp replica, “what a waste.” I understand the deep regret that so many people lost their lives, but I’m not sure I’d say it was a waste. I admit I am no expert on the complexities of the Vietnam situation, but I hesitate to call it a waste when people fight valiantly (in spite of what John Kerry says) and do their best for their country, their home. Yes, there were issues, but war is hell. I do not want to go there; I do not want to know the details of it; but sometimes war must be waged, and I’m thankful there are brave men and women who step up and do their best. A life is not a waste if it was lived well. Maybe “how tragic” or “how sad” wouldn’t have bothered me the way “what a waste” did. Maybe it’s just me, but somehow “waste” carried with it some contempt that made me bristle. Anyway… the point is that it was an honor to visit the USS Yorktown and rub elbows with a bit of history, and take time to remember the many brave Americans and others who have fought (and are fighting) for our country and our freedom.

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