Tag Archives: Classical History

Some Thoughts While Aboard the U.S.S. Lexington

I recently made my way down to Corpus Christi, Texas to visit the “Blue Ghost” of World War II, the U.S.S. Lexington. She’s the oldest aircraft carrier in the world, and one of only three remaining Essex-class carriers. Lexington was decommissioned back in 1991, but despite being inactive for that long a time, she’s a beauty. There is a quiet strength and majesty to her that resonates in the ocean air. Trust me when I say that the pictures don’t do her justice.

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Wow…just wow.

When I visit a place like this ship, a place so weighty with history, I get all introspective. This isn’t so I can look brooding, or so that I can recite some sort of inner monologue, but simply because I can feel the echoes. I took the ‘hard hat’ tour, which allows you to go into spaces that are usually off limits to the public. I walked just a fraction of her labyrinthine interior, through rusted hatches, up stairwells, and past any number of compartments lost entirely in darkness. People lived and died here.

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Crew berthings.

I went up to the flight deck and stood at the rails overlooking the ocean. The waters are a deep forest green there. In the distance someone rode a jet ski. I scanned the beach to see people fishing off the wave breaks, swimming, and enjoying their time at the beach in the shadow of a colossus. My feelings were bittersweet as I stood there.

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Up on the flight deck.

On the one hand, I am glad that Lexington survived the war, and avoided the breakers that claimed Enterprise and so many others. She’s a part of history, and the historian in me is overjoyed that she’s still around. Even beyond WWII, any number of factors could have ended with her at the bottom of the ocean, or torn apart. But she bucked the odds at every turn to eventually find a permanent home in Corpus.

The Blue Ghost

Historical marker.

But on the other hand, she’s warship who will never see active duty again. Once she was one of the mightiest vessels on the ocean, and now bored teenagers scratch their initials into her paint.  There is a movie theatre built into the forward part of her aircraft hangar and a cafeteria built into the aft. While she needs the touristy stuff (like the gift shop) to sustain herself, it strikes me as a little sad that she’ll never sail again.

Families came and went on the shoreline, many of whom did not spare the ship even a passing glance; Lexington sat like a giant metal grandmother, watching as grandchildren played at her feet.

The Blue Ghost

The view from the bridge.

That’s when I realized that this was exactly what U.S.S. Lexington had fought for, her enduring legacy—peace. So, to everyone who has served aboard her in the past, and to all the custodians of her presently, you all have my thanks. Every. Single. One.

And should you find yourself in Corpus Christi, I highly recommend paying the Blue Ghost a visit. Definitely go for the hard hat tour. Take it from this guy, it’s worth every penny.

Get the T-shirt.

My new writing shirt.

[Check out The Backwards Mask on Kindle.]


Madness? THIS IS…ATHENS!

It’s no secret − I’m a nerd as well as a geek. It’s not all about Optimus Prime and marathons of Doctor Who episodes…no, no! For a guy who spends an inordinate amount of time contemplating worlds other than our own, I do have an interest in real-life stuff. Take history, for example. I’ve been a history buff since I was very young. In fact, I can pretty much trace what initially sparked my interest in the subject down to one incident.

I was born in Athens, a small town out in the piney woods of East Texas. One Sunday morning when I was about four or five, I was sitting in church, listening to the story of the Apostle Paul’s famous sermon on the Areopagus, or the Hill of Ares, in Athens, Greece.

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Tonight we dine at Mazzio’s!

Not realizing that there were, in fact, many cities with that name, my mind lit up with the possibilities. I was sitting on the lap of my godmother, or “Nanny,” and the conversation went something like this:

Me: So, Paul went to Athens?

Nanny: Yes, that’s right.

Me:  Wow! I didn’t know he came here. Athens is that old?

Nanny: (With a knowing smile) No, honey, he went to Athens, Greece.

Me: You mean there’s more than one?

Nanny:  Yes.

Me:  (Processing this new information) So…why did they name their city after us?

Nanny: (Another knowing smile) They didn’t. We named our city after them.

It was a whole new world for me. There was another Athens that I had never even heard of before, and it was apparently so cool and awesome that we were merely a reflection of it. It planted the seed of curiosity. I wanted to know just what this ‘super’ Athens had done to warrant such a thing. It made me want to know about them.

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Wait, what are you doing? Stop singing!

As soon as I could, I started reading about Greece. Democracy, theatre, philosophy and the Socratic Method, astronomy, sculpture, marathons, the Olympics, the foundations of the Roman alphabet, classical architecture (most notably the Parthenon), strides forward in mathematics and music, the Hippocratic Oath of Doctors, concepts of social justice, civic duty and community, epic poetry, military strategy, and on, and on. The Greeks either gave us those things outright, or made huge leaps in existing fields. Athens played a big part in all of that.

Makes me proud to be an Athenian. Of a sort…

So, big surprise, that era of history is one my favorites.  I just can’t read enough about it. Western civilization owes much to the ancient Greeks. So remember that next time you play Stratego, eat a gyro, or bust out your copy of Clash of the Titans.

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Tragic.