WHICH NAVY WILL THEY CHOOSE?
Preparing to sail
The ocean in the distance
Most of the time while taking the tour I was thinking of our friend Becky Farley who was the officer on deck of one of these ships in 2003 when the U.S. launched the shock and awe invasion of Iraq. She was a Lieutenant and her ship, the USS Cowpens, fired the very first cruise missile at Baghdad in the attack. Becky's job in that moment was to keep the ship on course. After the attack was over she went below to watch the TV coverage of the attack and the crew cheered wildly as the missiles hit their targets causing explosions and fire. It was in those moments that Becky began to reevaluate her life in the Navy. Today she is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and participated in their Winter Soldier Hearings in the spring of 2008. I met Becky a couple of years ago when she attended a talk I gave in Boothbay Harbor just north of here. She hung around after the talk and went out for a beer with Mary Beth and me and we've been close friends ever since. Mary Beth accompanied Becky to the Winter Solider event.
During the tour, where many BIW workers and families came to see the final product, little kids sat in the captain's chair and I could imagine many of them seeing themselves as sailors one day.
We are taught in this country to glorify war and the expensive high-tech weapons.
I know this because when I was a kid I had a big framed photo my dad gave me of a bunch of Air Force planes on the base flightline. As we moved from base to base around the world I carried that photo with us and it always hung in my room just opposite my crucifix. After high school I too joined the Air Force just like my dad. I wanted to be a career man. But then I got turned around by the GI resistance movement in the Air Force during the Vietnam War and became a peace activist. Today I am a proud member of Maine Veterans for Peace.
Sometimes those making the wars have a change of heart. As I looked deeply at the members of the crew giving us the tour today, I wondered which of them will have a change of heart about their "mission". From my experience, and Becky's as well, I know it will happen as sure as the sun rises and the tides change.