Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Homeward Bound

The USS New York sailed “home” on Monday. It arrived from a Louisiana shipyard and sailed into New York Harbor. It stopped in front of the section of skyline that used to include the World Trade Centers. A 21-gun salute commemorated the moment. I don’t care to meet the American who isn’t moved by those images or in fact, by the very thought of this homecoming.

You see, the bow of the USS New York is built from 7.5 tons of steel from the fallen World Trade Center towers. A foundry manager is quoted as saying, “I could feel the power…when I touched the hull, every hair stood up.” If there was ever a phoenix to rise from its ashes, this is it.

Technically, the warship is a San Antonio-class amphibious dock vessel. The ship is 684 feet long and can carry as many as 800 Marines. Its flight deck can handle helicopters and the MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. It would be powerful without the emotional aura tied to the origin of its steel.

Families of 9/11 victims and first responders were on hand Monday to salute the USS New York… and remember. I hope the nation took a few minutes to set aside World Series fever and remember as well. I recall thinking on that fateful evening that these attacks would be the “Pearl Harbor” of the current era, but the world is a different place and moving at a far different speed than it was in 1941.

The Greatest Generation and its offspring still seem to bear deeper wounds from that attack. I sense our current generations have healed more quickly after 9/11. I won’t say “we’ve forgotten,” but if we were to return to 1950 and discuss the Pearl Harbor attacks, I believe its remembrance would be far fresher. Other than chalking it up to “the world being a different place and moving at a faster speed,” I’m not sure why that is.

The USS New York will remain in its namesake, appropriately, until Veterans’ Day. Let’s not forget our veterans or 9/11, and let’s hope the full force of the USS New York is never brought to bear. I’m certain its power far exceeds its technical specifications.

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