Friday, July 13, 2018

U.S.S. Iowa

 I love to see the American flag wave. I love to sing along, the Star Spangled Banner, each time I hear it's patriotic melody ringing in my ears. I love my country and will forever be grateful for the men and women that have served in our armed forces to defend our freedoms and our beliefs. My unwavering respect for those that gave their lives fighting for our country is something that I feel must be passed on to our children. That is why this year for Memorial Day we visited the U.S.S. Iowa in Los Angeles. 
  Like many places across the country on that day, the Iowa hosted a wreath ceremony and a moment of quiet reflection for those that made the ultimate sacrifice. My kids understood that it was important to me that they were here and listened to the words that were said, but I don't know if they really understand the "why" just yet. Well, they are teenagers, I think they understand, but it will take time for it to really sink in as deeply as it has in me. That's okay with me, as long as in the end they get it.
 Here's a trivia question for you. Ready? What item does the U.S.S. Iowa have on board that no other United States' war ship have on board?
 Before I answer that question let me tell you that the U.S.S. Iowa is known as the "Battleship of Presidents." It has hosted more U.S. Presidents (3) than any other battleship. Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush visited while she was on duty, but during World War II she carried then President Franklin D. Roosevelt to meet Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin in Tehran for their first meeting to strategize how to take down Hitler and Nazi Germany.
 Due to the lengthy trip and the President's disability, a tub was installed for him to use while on board. To this day it is the only Naval vessel with a tub. Boom. Trivia question answered.
 It's easy to get lost in the aura of these Naval ships and their history, but what you really need to stop and think about while touring one of these behemoths is that this was home to thousands of sailors. The narrow maze of corridors throughout the ship left just enough room for two people to squeeze past each other, but only if they turned sideways. People of my height, over 6' would have to duck every time they passed through a door and would have to keep an eye out for low pipes and ductwork just about everywhere except on the deck. I would not have done well living on this ship.
 Yeah, this thing is cramped but I loved the crawl through it. Our brothers and sisters that serve our country sacrifice so much for our freedom and to see the conditions and the tools they used back then to make sure we continued to have these freedoms is an honor. It gives perspective to what it takes to live on a floating city.
  We spent almost three hours ascending and descending steep ship ladders, stared in awe at the size of the big guns (my favorite,) and took plenty of photos to keep as memories. We walked the same halls that FDR traversed as he worried and strategized how to help save the world. It's truly amazing that we still have such an important piece of history here for our kids to see and although my family likely wanted to do something else, though there were no complaints, I'm very excited to have experienced the Iowa with them. 
There is also an exhibit dedicated to 47 sailors that lost their lives aboard Iowa when gun turret #2 exploded on April 19, 1989. The cause of the explosion was disputed, in fact after a lengthy investigation the official cause was listed as inconclusive, likely due to differing opinions of the Navy and the General Accounting Office's conclusions of the cause. Either way, it is a major part of the history of the ship and the items on display here are humbling.
If you want to experience the U.S.S. Iowa it is located in the L.A. Harbor and the cost to tour start at $20 for ages 12 to 61 but you can save a few dollars by pre-purchasing tickets online. You can also get a package deal that gets you on to Iowa and the Queen Mary if you're interested in seeing them both during your vacation. If you want to learn more, check out their site here.
  Sorry about the long time between posts lately. Things are starting to get crazy with big changes happening in our life right now. We aren't going anywhere, though. We still have a lot of stories coming for you so thanks for your patience. Until next week, folks. Have a good weekend and get out and find some adventure.


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