A Global Force for Good
October 11, 2012 5 Comments
“It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious.”
237 Years ago a great tradition started. As always, it started with men. Men like :Dudley Saltonstall, Abraham Whipple, Nicholas Biddle and John Burrows Hopkins, the first captains in the service. Men like First Lieutenant John Paul Jones whom Catherine the Great would later call the “Greatest Admiral of the Russian Navy“. Men like Stephan Decatur, who won praise from no less than Lord Nelson. Men like Farragut, Dewey, Sims, Byrd, Halsey, Nimitz and many others not as well known.
Then there are the firsts:
- First attack by a submerged submarine in 1776
- First successful attack by a submerged submarine
- First major amphibious opposed landing in modern history
- First battle between Ironclad ships firing rifled guns.
- First overflight of the North Pole
- First overflight of the South Pole
- First naval combat where the ships never sighted each other
- First nuclear propelled ship
- First submerged circumnavigation of the world.
Then there are the battle honors
- Bonhommie Richard v Serapis
- Constitution v HMS Guerriere, Java, Pictou, Cyane and Levant.
- Monitor v Merrimack (or Virginia)
- Valcour Island
- Mobile Bay
- Manila Bay
- Pearl Harbor
- Coral Sea
- Operation Neptune
- Battle of the Atlantic (1917-18 and 1941-45)
- Operation Torch
- Iraq (twice)
- And many, many more.
It’s a story written in heroism and blood for 237 years. But you know I want to talk about something else for a bit. We know they are always out there protecting America, and our trade. I’ve talked about it here and here as well as here. That’s all well and good, and it’s the mission as well.
But let’s talk about the real world for a minute here. Let’s say your an Indonesian villager or a Haitian, or a hundred other nationalities, who makes almost enough to feed your family. It’s hard for us to realize how common that is in our world still. Now an earthquake, flood, tsunami, or some other disaster strikes, and you lose effectively everything, maybe your family survives but all you have left is the shirt on your back. You’re obviously sitting around in shock, but maybe you can see the ocean, and you notice some bumps on the horizon. “Now what?” you’d undoubtedly think. What comes over that horizon is one of the greatest battle fleets in the history of the world, able to defeat almost any country all by themselves. What calamity is this you think, as you watch those ships drop anchor and all of a sudden helicopters and landing craft start issuing from that fleet. Think you’d be scared? I sure would be.
So the landing party lands, and you stand around gawking, as American sailors and Marines start giving away food, taking care of the injured, helping to find the missing, setting up tents, hauling in clean water, and everything else you could dream of. Yep, those imperialistic, war mongering Americans sent a whole battle fleet, halfway around the world to help your village get through your troubles, all of it courtesy of the US Taxpayers, who whine as we might about our taxes, never complain about this, because deep down this is who we are.
We do this mission because its who we are, we want to help, but in truth, it’s also good global politics. You think there might be legends in some of those countries about the way the Americans showed up, often even before their own government, to help in time of disaster, I do, and I’m very proud that we do it without thinking about that. We do it because it’s the right thing to do.
So, for the 237th time: Happy Birthday, Navy
- USS Constitution to sail under own power for second time in over a century – CBS News (xbradtc.wordpress.com)
- World’s oldest commissioned warship to sail again (kfwbam.com)
- ‘Old Ironsides’ sails again to commemorate battle (foxnews.com)
- How USS Constitution Became ‘Old Ironsides’ 200 Years Ago (history.com)