Since our soft launch, we have been building partnerships and connections with other 501(c)3 organizations as well as those institutions with critical importance to our mission with the USS HORNET Project. I've been meeting some great people and making great connections, sharing some fun sea stories and good jokes. Eat, sleep, get up and do it again. Each day I wake up and realize that I have no idea where I might end up, who I might meet, and what connections I'll have made by the time I hit the rack that night.
Yesterday I had the great opportunity to sit in on the War of 1812 commemorations working group led by CAPT Pat Burns and his staff at the Naval History and Heritage Command Office of Commemorations. And before you say "oh cool" you need to picture a very full room, a malfunctioning conference call-er widget and death by powerpoint. Yes, it was that exciting. But the key take-away is that since October 2010, CAPT Burns and his team have been networking Navy commands and public institutions getting the preparations made for the War of 1812 bicentennial commemorations - no easy thing when your task is to harness the ever-shrinking body of Navy assets that can be allocated to such events (vice combat deployments) and personal, professional and political networks as vast and complex as a united string of my past girlfriends. Yikes.
When I look at NHS, from the top down to the individual volunteers, I see a united formation fighting an uphill battle with substandard weapons and limited support. I think my job is difficult. And then I meet CAPT Burns and his team riding their backsides raw corralling a nation-wide support base and pushing to collect and conglomerate what may be the most complex, challenging and (for the time being) under-appreciated commemoration schedule in decades. I realize that I am small potatoes, here.
There is a certain hopeless feeling that starts to erode confidence after a few hours. And yet CAPT Burns and his people are still there, in the saddle, pushing onward. They know, as few others can imagine, that all of this grating, grinding, agonizing planning and re-planning will ultimately produce something grand, impressive, and remarkably meaningful. And not only for the historical community and its broad base of armchair supporters, but for our Sailors and Marines, for whom the last ten years have been the epitome of the drawn-out, uphill battle full of far-flung enemies, economic strain, and personal sacrifice.
Realizing that 200 years ago, we faced similar perils and triumphed, against all odds, those Sailors and Marines will look back proudly at their remarkable history. At the same time, the American public will focus on and celebrate the proud heritage that these Sailors and Marines have carried on - with aplomb - and recognize that, contrary to the "kids these days" outlook, our Naval forces remain READY, RESPONSIVE and RELEVANT. Our Sailors and Marines are the heart of that truth, and carry that torch proudly. Let them remember that, and let the public remember that.
Dismount - soapbox.
Hat tip, NHHC Commemorations Office!