Navy war ships are named after our national parks, which seems an oxymoron to me.
I thought about this when I visited Acadia National Park in Maine, for which the destroyer tender, USS Acadia, is named.
I had sailed aboard this ship in 1990 on a Tiger Cruise from Seattle to San Diego, a public relations sea-going event to show loved ones how safely their sailors lived. My youngest daughter, a welder and one of 400 women assigned to the ship’s 1,200 person crew, had invited me. .
Shortly after we had sailed out of Seattle, we heard that Iraq had invaded Kuwait. The sailors correctly assumed they would soon be sailing to Mideastern Gulf waters, not the kind of thing any mother of a child in the military wanted to hear. Activities for the guests aboard the USS Acadia, however, continued, and my daughter and I won a Pictograph Tournament during the three days we were at sea. My prize was a bright red sweatshirt with USS Acadia in gold lettering imprinted across the front. I still wear it on cool days.
Entering Acadia National Park on Maine’s Atlantic Ocean coast brought back memories of my days aboard the ship, and refreshed my question of why war ships are named after national parks. It didn’t make sense to me. Parks are places of peace and war are places of hell.
What had started out as pleasant memories as I drove dissolved into a tumultuous concern about death and dying. As I always do, when I finally accept there are things my worrying can’t solve, was to shift my focus to Mother Nature’s wonders. It’s never hard to find them.
This day it was the color of the seasons. I had reached Maine in time to watch the foliage turn from green to reds and golds. While my concerns about war and my hopes for peace didn’t go away, they disappeared for awhile in a closet of my brain, and the door shut with the help of cheerful lilac asters that grew along the edges of the road.
Perhaps the answer to why ships of war are named after parks is to remind our country’s soldiers that beauty awaits them at home to counteract the ugliness of battlegrounds.