“Sleep softly my old love
my beauty in the dark
night is a dream we have
as you know as you know”
W. S. Merwin
Yesterday a group of dedicated young ROTC midshipmen/cadets from The Citadel and one Petty Officer from Navy Nuclear Power Training Command (NNPTC) assembled on the USS Yorktown to give her a better looking flight deck. The group included Midshipmen Cowart, Watson and Sparks, then Officer Candidates (prior Navy who are working on their college degree and a commission) ET2 Randall, MM2 Hucks, ET3 Goodwin and ET2 Niebbes from The Citadel, and lastly from NNPTC MM3 Grisi.
Once upon a time this ship was manned by America’s youth who trained and worked as a team to make Yorktown a mighty tool of American power for freedom around the world. Today, Yorktown’s fight is against the ravages of time and nature here on Charleston Harbor, the site of the beginning of America’s bloodiest war and many important naval engagements in our Revolutionary and Civil Wars. There are lots of folks betting against Yorktown this time around; they believe her night is near and all her days are done.
Watching the young men and women painting the flight deck of the old girl yesterday gave me a glimmer of hope, at least for one day…these young men and women who are the future of our Navy’s officer corps gave up their time away from school to make an old ship look a little better for her visitors. Those who come to Yorktown and Patriots Point…come to remember, come to learn, come to hear amazing tales of American youth on the high seas, against danger and tall odds and possible death. Perhaps one day they will not come, if Yorktown is not here…perhaps they will not remember…will not learn…will not hear amazing tales…as you know as you know.