By Capt. Karl Thomas
Commanding Officer, USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72)
As the Commanding Officer of the proud warship USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), I am reminded every day of the sacrifices our service men and women make for their nation. I get an opportunity to interact with these great Americans on a daily basis, and witness their patriotism first hand. Every day I’m also reminded of our warship’s namesake, our 16th president, President Abraham Lincoln, and strive to pass on Lincoln’s teachings and leadership principles.
During Lincoln’s presidency he spent “75 percent of his time” meeting with those he served, according to Lincoln on Leadership by Donald T. Phillips. I’m inspired by Lincoln and his approachability to those he led and those who followed. On a weekly basis, my counterparts at Newport News Shipbuilding and our ship’s department heads nominate their best shipyard workers and Sailors to be recognized during our “Warrior of the Week” appreciation opportunities. This weekly encounter is one small opportunity to meet and show my appreciation for the accomplishments these Sailors and shipyard workers achieve for our nation.
These Sailors and shipyard workers will pour nearly 25 million man-hours of hard work modernizing the ship, refueling her, blasting and painting tanks, putting in new command and control systems, reworking countless pumps, motors, valves, and overhauling her rudders, shafts, catapults and arresting gear. In a little less than three years, she will return to sea to serve our nation for 25 more years. There are Sailors not even born today who will one day serve aboard USS Abraham Lincoln to continue commemorating our 16th president’s legacy to our nation.
This year, it is most fitting, that many in our nation will commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address on the 19th day of the 11th month of this, our 2013th year. On that November day back in 1863, President Lincoln was challenged to speak about the enormity of Gettysburg. Spending only two minutes speaking the Address, Lincoln used the fewest number of words to convey the greatest, most important message of that time.
To commemorate these words and this speech, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation invited today’s generation to connect pen to paper to remark on the importance of this address. People from around the world, to include past presidents, journalists, and Sailors from USS Abraham Lincoln were invited to take part in this essay commemoration by voicing their words on what Lincoln’s message from 150 years ago personally meant to them and to our nation.
In Lincoln’s Address he discussed the past, the present, the renewal of our nation, and he looked to the future. USS Abraham Lincoln is the future of our Navy and it is only fitting that Sailors serving aboard his namesake carrier wrote their 272 words to pay homage to a president and the words he wrote 150 years ago that remain so resilient to this day.
Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Danian Douglas represents one of those Sailors who took pen to paper to purport his thoughts of what the Address meant to him and his family. Douglas’ ancestors can be traced back to a former colonial island in the Western Hemisphere and it is fitting that his writing on Lincoln’s Address will be on display at the Foundation during its commemoration event on Nov. 19. Here’s a short excerpt from his essay:
“It’s the feeling of belief that makes people reflect on the great sacrifice and diligent work that he has done, which transmits his power into the ones who read these works and recreates his eternal spirit.”
Chief Cryptological Technician Jeremy Crandall took on the challenge and submitted his essay to the Foundation. Here’s a short excerpt from his essay:
“Your words, they hit at the core of our being. You spoke of dedication and the birth of a new nation. The road was long and hard, but you inspired us. These deaths were not in vain and we never forgot. Your words were long remembered and still resonate with us seven score and ten years later.
In a way, we as a nation can never do enough to dedicate and honor what you’ve done for us. These words I write will not be long remembered. But you Abraham Lincoln will be remembered. Your efforts, your words, inspire and teach to this day. For the people, by the people. We survive as do you. Shall not Perish.”
While we commemorate the Address, during the 11th month of the year, the crew of USS Abraham Lincoln also celebrated our Veterans’ service to our nation and the 24th anniversary of our commissioning on Nov. 11. Since our commissioning 24 years ago, tens of thousands of Sailors have served onboard this great carrier. Today, there are currently 2,500 Sailors serving aboard the Lincoln. Representing one of those Sailors is Lt. Cmdr. Tony Beaster, who also submitted an essay to the Foundation about the principles and qualities Lincoln espoused which are being taught on board USS Abraham Lincoln.
“Many of our great Captains of Industry today have adopted the principles President Lincoln taught to us those many years ago during dark times. The Officers and crew of the USS Abraham Lincoln proudly celebrate the principles and qualities he taught us those many years ago and proudly embrace our motto “Shall not Perish”!”
To further commemorate the Gettysburg Address, several officers and crew members from USS Abraham Lincoln voiced lines of the Address.