The picture above is a picture of the ship I served in the Navy, the USS Mt. Whitney. It is an amphibious command ship, now having the home port in Italy. I knew she had been in the shipyards over there. The Navy plans on using this ship for another 20 years. That is interesting because, at least according to an article I read sometime back, the Mt. Whitney is the third oldest ship in the fleet now. The Mt. Whitney‘s sister ship, the USS Blue Ridge is number 2. And the oldest is this really old ship, dating back to wooden hulls, the USS Constitution.
When I was in the Navy, Mt. Whitney‘s home port was Norfolk, VA. The Blue Ridge‘s home port was San Diego, and the Constitution (really only used for show and ceremonial purposes today) has her home port in Boston. That was almost 40 years ago. Today Mt. Whitney‘s home port is in Italy. The Blue Ridge is in Japan. Constitution is still in Boston.
Today in the waters off the Italian port city of Gaeta, the Mt. Whitney played the Italian national anthem. It may sound funny, an American Navy ship playing a foreign country’s national anthem. It isn’t the first time, I feel pretty certain it won’t be the last.
It wasn’t even the first time for Mt. Whitney. On my first cruise to Europe in 1978 we entered the port of Dublin. I was part of the ship’s honor guard for that cruise. We went to a national cemetery in Dublin where Vice Admiral W.L. McDonald laid a wreath at the Irish equivalent of “The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.” It was a moving ceremony and the band played the Irish National Anthem. No, we were not on the ship but it was a ship’s function. 40 years ago, it was for ceremony.
Today it was the Mt. Whitney showing solidarity with the Italian people through this Cobid19 world crisis. While the ship’s crew and a large compliment of private mariners who work on Mt. Whitney, the people around them are their friends and neighbors. It was their way of saying we are with you, this is about all of us.
A few months back, one of my old shipmates posted a Facebook meme with our old ship on it. The meme said, “When I was 20, this was my happy place.” I said then, I won’t say it was my happy place, but I sure had some happy times there.
Mt. Whitney had several loving if not complementary nicknames. She was called the “Funny Twenty,” “Building 20 (We didn’t leave Norfolk very often,” “Fat Albert.” That is just a few.
With what the captain and crew of Mt. Whitney did yesterday I am certainly proud of my old ship. Playing the Italian national anthem may seem small thing, but sometimes even small things can make a big difference.
Yesterday morning, early, Cindy and I went to Walmart to buy supplies for two friends in need who live in a local retirement home. They are under quarantine and can’t get to the story.
He is a Navy guy to but I met in ministry not in the Navy. If he was on and read this I would insert just for him, “we are both Navy guys, only he was on a ship with wooden hulls and decks.
The truth is, I have no idea if Blue Ridge after returning played the Japanese National Anthem or not. I am thinking likely not.
The Mt. Whitney could have come home and done nothing. That is nothing uncommon. We could have ignored our friends needs
What can you do? The list is endless, shopping, cooking, talking on the phone and even if you can do nothing else, you can ALWAYS pray.
Find something you can do and start telling the world you are there to help.
Let’s all do what we can’t. Be smart, but get out and help. When Cindy and I got the the retirement center, Cindy called our friend who came to the front door she could have stayed shuttered inside.
Please, be careful out there, do what you can for someone else, and I know you will be blessed.
Seeking the Genuine,
Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved
If your church could use some prayer, leave us the book
And if your church needs prayer during these difficult times, please leave your church name in the comments and I will create a list. You can come to a post on Facebook and find a church for which you want to pray.
Seeking the Genuine,
Copyright 2020, J Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved
Permission Given for non-commercial use of this material