Sink the Yorktown??? Don’t Think So…
Perhaps I shouldn’t write this rebuttal to the Post and Courier article “Sink the Yorktown and bring in another ship” by Ken Burger, so soon after researching for a Memorial Day post for tomorrow, as it got a little emotional at times. Mr Burger might well have waited until after the day when we honor our fallen heroes to propose scrapping what is a major symbol of our Veteran’s sacrifice, since 1975 moored in Charleston Harbor, the WW 2 aircraft carrier USS Yorktown. The reporter says:
Experts recently estimated it would take $64 million to repair the four warships berthed along the banks of the Cooper River. That’s a lot of money the state authority does not have and probably cannot raise from ticket sales, which are in decline.
The exhibit includes the aircraft carrier Yorktown, the destroyer Laffey, the submarine Clamagore and the Coast Guard cutter Ingham.
All seemed like good ideas at the time they were moored in the pluff mud and put on display. Time and tide, however, have turned them into rusting hulks.
Patriots Point officials, therefore, are mired in a deepening dilemma about what to do, saying a new financial model is desperately needed to support the exhibits.
While this idea will be perceived as blasphemous in some circles, perhaps it is time to sink these ships and bring in other attractions.
The Yorktown might be a “rusting hulk” to Mr Burger, but not to many thousands of our citizens who were young men when they served. For them the “Fighting Lady” was home away from home, and where many saw their friends die brutal deaths in defense of this country. For the families of the fallen, often the mighty warship setting sail for far shore was the last memory they had of loved ones who never returned. The Yorktown then, has become a highly visual embodiment of their memory and sacrifice, a living monument which the reporter would so callously discard to pay for our government’s excesses.
Speaking of cost, if Mr Burger considers a 30,000 ton ship costs “enormous sums of money to maintain”, imagine what an 80,000-100,000 ton aircraft carrier would cost in annual upkeep, which he proposes to replace the Yorktown with, which is the size of the average nuclear powered flattop. I can imagine the environmental advocates howling at the very idea of a giant nuclear ship in Charleston Harbor, no matter how well the reactors are cleaned up.
Considering the Yorktown’s age, there are older iron vessels as national monuments, including the battleship USS Texas commissioned in 1914 at the beginning of the First World War. Overseas the British still maintain her first ironclad battleship, HMS Warrior, a 10,000 ton ship which was built when the US Civil War was ongoing!
Mr Burger does have a right to his opinion, but honoring our servicemen is not just about slapping up any old monument to make ourselves feel better that we “support the troops”. It is about memories, and if we destroy the Yorktown, for many the memories die with her.