I have held my peace for the past 24-hours as a kind of “counting to ten” mindful of one of blogging’s first principles regarding blogging while angry. Time’s up — I’m not angry, I’m royally POd. Still.
“The selection of Gabrielle Giffords, designated LCS 10, honors the former Congresswoman from Tucson, Arizona, who is known for supporting the military and veterans, advocating for renewable energy and championing border security,”
That was the Navy’s statement, accompanying the DoD announcement that LCS-10 would be named after the former Congresswoman from Arizona – breathtaking in clarity, reason and justification for naming this particular warship, eh? Let me preface my following remarks by underscoring my beef isn’t with the former Congresswoman, but rather with the pandering, “feel good” action this represents. That the Secretary of the Navy – and his supporting staff which includes active duty leadership who should know better; took this COA with no small list of genuine heroes, men and women, who have laid down their lives in willing service to this nation and all it stands for; in defiance of the list of Medal of Honor awardees (living and dead) who remain otherwise unrecognized, speaks volumes as to his (and their) stewardship of the Service, its heritage and the traditions that follow thereof. That shouldn’t surprise me I suppose, coming from the same office that has also named ships after a disgraced Congressman and labor organizer who made clear his hate for the Navy. All that matters is the visuals – fitting I suppose for a vessel that is star-crossed at best where missions and capabilities are concerned. Selah.
(And for the record, I was just as dismayed when we named a carrier after a living, former Congressman and another after a former President whose distaste for the Navy (and naval aviation in particular)was well known.)
Ships names mean something – they are the outward face of this nation to the world; from princes and presidents to average citizens. They impart a picture of founding principles and elements of this nation (Constitution, Independence, Enterprise…); they recall when we chose to stand and fight for those principles (Tarawa, Gettysburg, Lexington, Valley Forge, Normandy). They honor the sacrifice of those who fought and paid the ultimate price and those that led them – John Paul Jones, Arleigh Burke, Stockdale, Jason Dunham, Michael Murphy). They hail the great land that brought them to life in material and manpower and stand behind them today and for the ages – Missouri, New York, Olympia, Long Beach. These are no temporary creations, with lives that span decades if not the better part of a century – and there names should be for the ages, not a fleeting moment of politically inspired optics.
Over at the official website for the Navy’s History and Heritage Command, there is a FAQ on naming USN ships – quoted in part below:
“How will the Navy name its ships in the future? It seems safe to say that the evolutionary process of the past will continue; as the Fleet itself changes, so will the names given to its ships. It seems equally safe, however, to say that future decisions in this area will continue to demonstrate regard for the rich history and valued traditions of the United States Navy.“
For those who had any part, however small in the latest failure in ship naming – and for those who at some point were in a position to stand up and say “enough” – but failed to do so, I took the liberty of highlighting what I think is the relevant part of the sentence.