Will and I went with his Cub Scout den this afternoon on a tour of the USS Theodore Roosevelt. This aircraft carrier, with a deploying crew of 5000 sailors and airmen, is a small city with mess halls, a bank, gyms, and even a museum with a moose head (shot by TR himself). We got to walk on the flight deck and see where the cables to arrest a fighter jet's landing are attached and sit in the captain's chair up on the bridge. The boys were impressed with the cavernous hanger bays and the brig where prisoners are made to scrub and polish for hours each day.
The thing that made the biggest impression on me was the berthing- 3 bunks high with small curtains across for privacy. Each junior enlisted member of the crew, who usually live on board full time, are allotted only a small locker to store all their possessions. I would encourage any of my children who decided to follow in their father's, grandfather's, and great-grandfather's footsteps of serving in the US Navy to first get a college degree. Officers are entitled to certain privileges, the most important (to me) being assigned a stateroom shared by only 1-3 other crew members. Even though it is a huge vessel, the general feeling I had was one of feeling enclosed and smushed. It was a relief to walk down the gangway and onto the pier after only a few hours. I can't imagine what it would be like to have to eat, sleep, and work in such a confined space for months on end.
Today I salute and pray for all the men and women who sacrifice for our country in unpleasant places around the world, in sandy deserts, in submarines, and on big gray ships.