Weekend Snapshot: USS North Carolina

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While on vacation in North Carolina last week, my daughter and I took a tour of the USS North Carolina, which is in Wilmington, North Carolina. My daughter didn't much like it, and I felt bad about that at first. Then I thought, why on earth should anybody like a battleship? That's about the last thing anybody should do. Be awed, be impressed, be intimidated, be horrified, but don't actually like it. "Take it in," I told her. "Take it all in, even if you don't like it. Because you're here."

After the tour was over and we bought our bogus souvenir photos (We stood in front of the green screen though it looks for all the world like we stood in front of a plane.) and got instructions from the cashier on how to get to the nearest cinema (to see the Hannah Montana movie), I asked my daughter what she didn't like.

The smell. The dampness. The heat. The metal floors that weren't solid that she could see through. The steep and narrow ladders.

She gave me what I wanted: a teachable moment. I invoked my dead uncles who served in World War II. Imagine living with all that because you had to. Imagine living in that thing for weeks at a time in the Pacific, far from people you loved, and being aware of the possibility you might never get back--and before you did or didn't get back you might have to fight like hell. Imagine sinking in that great metal barge.

"I hope you never forget how much you didn't like that boat and why," I told her, adding the question, "What did you think of that cabinet with the names of all the schools whose students gave their dimes to preserve that boat? Cool, or what?"

No comment.

It was cool.

"Were the men who served on that thing brave, do you think?"

"Yes."

"Why? You know, not everybody who fought in World War II had a choice. Many were told to. So is courage a commodity, something you can find when you need it because you need it?" When I was her age, I learned about my uncles who served in That War, how they found the courage and did what they had to do despite their own discomfort and the privations.... Heard it all so many times. I never grew bored with that story. I understood that these were young men with big hearts and a sense of honor that grew out of a good home. I understood that the whole business of war was horrible. I understood that my uncles were wonderful.

"Guess so." All the while, she had been navigating us to the theatre. Though I couldn't understand a word that lovely local woman had uttered by way of directing us to the cinema, Adella took in every word. And there we were. She could have a future in navigation.

Click here to tour the USS North Carolina.


Weekend Snapshot

Comments

  1. And this is why you are such a good teacher and it's a lesson to me in parenting. When Jasmine says she doesn't like something I sometimes forget to find out why.

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  2. You had me crying as I read that. . . oh yes, I am proud to be an American! Thanks to all our Vets past and present.

    I see I missed the poem below so going to go enjoy that now.

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  3. I don't blame her for not liking the battleship. It is cold dark killing machine. A necessary evil.

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  4. i just knew you were here after the wave post on Wif:poems

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  5. When your ship gets taken by modern day pirates I bet you would 'like' to see one of these ships.
    I'm sorry but I can't help myself from talking about current world events!

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  6. thanks for the reminder Sandy of what we all need to be thankful for that there were people to man/fight these ships when they were called upon to do so! Thank you for honoring them so!

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  7. I would have been left cold too but your thoughtful questions would have urged me to warm up and think deeper.

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  8. USS North Carolina was the first new battleship commissioned after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. She has really beautiful lines, at sea. She was one of the first ships built with the then-new all welded construction, replacing seams and rivets to save weight. We use that technique today. She was in every major offensive of WWII. After the war, North Carolina bought the ship from the Navy for $330,000, raised bby North Carolina's school children. On its way up the river to its present resting place, it struck and destroyed a floating restaurant which, despite rumors, was not a Japanese restaurant. I wish we had ten like her in the fleet today!

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  9. Great post Sandy. I enjoyed the conversation you had with your daughter.

    My daughter's Dad was in the navy and he was in navigation (1968 to 1972). I always make a point of explaining that I'm younger than him since I was 11 in 1968, ha. But the point I'm working around to is Bill and Judith have enjoyed touring some of the decommissioned ships. I'm sure we took her to the one you mentioned but my memory isn't great. I'll admit I'm a bit more like your daughter. I used to love sailing but I'm not big on battle ships.

    I'm only about 2 1/2 hours drive from Wilmington and have been there many times. I also love Topsail Beach which as I recall is where you go to on the NC coast. You never know, one vacation you may see this weird lady waving and saying is that you Sandy, it's me, it's me, it's Carver. That would be wild if I was on the NC coast at the same time as you sometime.

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  10. What a nice post and conversation. You are indeed a good teacher and your daughter is blessed to have you.

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  11. You are so right, Sandy: the whole business of war is horrible. Plus: it's the worst. And I understand your daughter who doesn't like the battleship.

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  12. enjoyed your teaching moment and use of questions in trying to explain to your daughter about her family's veterans. I've spent a couple of days with my 10 yr. twin grand daughters trying to have meaningful interactions. The funniest one was when they arrived and all headed to a computer to check their email and I told them they had a digital grandmother that was available in person if they wanted to talk to me. It is a challenge to interact with them or for that matter your own kids. Tomorrow my blog will feature two of their writings about the weekend.

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  13. Such a fantastic lesson taken, Sandy!
    Children have so many things to distract them, I feel worried they will not value the past any more.

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  14. that's a very good lesson, Sandy. Am sure, your daughter will appreciate it if not now, maybe in the future.

    My WS is here

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  15. I love your relationship with your daughter. The open flow of conversation between the two of you is refreshing. You are indeed, a teacher... a woman or great wisdom... and a lucky mom.

    I think that battleships are more than "killing" machines. They guard, protect, and preserve. Serving on a battleship was... and is, an honorable thing to do. The ships are built for a function... not beauty, and they are rather cold and ugly.

    War is a cold and ugly thing... Oh, how I pray that the day may come when there will no longer be a need to defend ourselves against the evils that make it apart of our existence.

    It would be a lot more enjoyable to take her on a tour of the Queen Mary...a luxery liner built for enjoyment while traveling on the high seas.

    Your tour with your daughter was exemplary.

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  16. a real heartwarming post. Made me teary eyed. I haven't since a ship like that but I sure would like to. Have a great week!

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  17. That's a huge ship, Sandy!

    And your conversation with your daughter can be a lesson for every american who takes patriotism lightly or non at all especially the kids or the teenagers. They will appreciate things when they understand things very clearly. So i like your approach. For sure, your daughter will have this experience as one of the memorable trips in her life.

    Great week ahead, Sandy!

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  18. :) Great life lessons U r sharing there. I did a sponteanous lesson w the classes I had today. I'll blog abt it sometime soon.

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  19. great post. what a great wisdom you shared with your daughter! she may not appreciate it now, but i'm sure someday, she'd understand. when i was kid, i used to get bored when my grandfather told us stories about the war...now i know how much those brave men & women sacrificed.

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  20. What a great post.And I love your photo..

    Mine's here and herehave a great week.

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  21. That was an excellent lesson. It's also good to remember that, nowadays, many warships rush to disaster areas, bringing much needed services, and saving many lives.

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  22. A very good post, Sandy! My father sailed on Dutch ships all through the war together with American ships and other allies. That ugly battleship defended the merchant ships, which had to transport all kind of war material. My father saw many ships sinking after they were torpedoed. In every port they they heard who of their friends had died. His best friend who was captain of another ship, was torpedoed by the Japs and when they were in the lifeboats, the crew was taking on board of the Japanese submarine. The officers were beheaded and the crew bound together and thrown overboard. Still I hate arms and I became a pacifist.

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  23. What a fascinating post and then to stimulate such an interesting range of responses! Enjoyed all of this!

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  24. I've toured a few battleships myself. They are miserably hot! They are very confining in nearly every way. That only adds to the list of hardships our troops endure to protect our freedom.

    Well done, Mom - and well done, teacher!

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  25. Love is so pure it follows you everywhere you go, looking back in the ugly past, looking into the hopeful future ... while living in the present of Hannah Montana ..

    Blessed is the child that can see such ugliness, and with her mother navigate away from it to something pleasant ... a day with her mother, and happy go lucky Hannah Montana.

    You may know this .. yes, I think you do. To her, you are the heroine ... you are her history books, and you are doing a damn good job!

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  26. I lost an uncle in the war too - but my dad was on a sub and I have toured a couple of them - have always been amazed at how cramped they are! Hard to believe any one could stay sane living there.

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  27. That looks really cool! I wish I was there. Thanks for sharing.

    alexander
    Alex's World! - http://www.kakinan.com/alex

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  28. Wow. If the kid can decipher "Down East Mushmouth" and get you where you're going, she might also have a future as an interpreter! I live here and there are times when I can't make it out. And my dad's side of the family is from that part of the state. (It's rough when you need a translator with your own relatives.)

    Sounds like you got a bit of education in along with the fun Miss. Great job!

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  29. What a tour, and what a ship. There are the things we want to see, and then there are the things we SHOULD see--your tour reminds me of our trip to Kilmainham Jail where the Irish martyrs died; I suffered every minute but had to go. Had to.

    I'm glad you did something fun afterwards, and I love your photo--the delicate colourful flags streaming in the breeze make an amazing contrast with the grey steel hulk they're tied to, and I'd never thought of ships that way before.

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  30. Chris9:05 PM

    I can completely understand your daughters reaction. It's ironic how the men who served aboard her felt. I live in Wilmington & have been on board the Showboat many times. The veterans who served on her speak of her beauty in almost reverent tones. You've got to remember that ship brought them home from the war. A great case of beauty in the eye of the beholder.

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