I am the first to admit it is a small matter, but I for one am glad to see it.
According to the Daily Mail, the latest USN nuclear aircraft carrier, fourth of the Gerald Ford class, will be named the USS Doris Miller, for a mess attendant. Doris (male despite his name and not of “alternative gender”) was the first black sailor to win the Navy Cross for gallantry, manning a machine gun aboard the USS West Virginia during the IJN’s attack on Pearl Harbor. He had previously had a destroyer-escort named for him. Posthumously.
Why is this important enough to comment about?
Because the Navy, Department of Defense, and the FedGov have destroyed a valued and important tradition, one dating back to the founding of the Republic. Not only are more and more warships named for politicians rather than warriors or States. No, they are not waiting until those politicians are decently dead and in their graves. Instead, they are still alive.
In my opinion, this dishonors the dead who have been honored by having ships named for them.
But more important, it shows the moral and ethical degradation of the American military and government. It is very much akin to the royalist habit of naming ships for the current monarch (a tradition which the British, at least, had the decency to abandon many years ago).
Indeed, I’ll go one further – it is the closest the FedGov has come to two very nasty ideas – one more than the other:
- Patents (titles) of nobility – a practice specifically prohibited by the Constitution
- Declaring politicians – thugs and con-artists at best – to be deities or demi-gods, a very nasty practice that was adopted by the Romans after the end of their republic.
Even when the President or Cabinet Secretary was also a serving military member before getting into politics, this habit is gross and ill-befitting nations that are supposed to be bastions of liberty. And doing it for those who did NOT serve in combat – even someone as revered as Reagan – is even more inappropriate. To name a ship the Gabrielle Gifford, for instance, is purely political. And even though he is dead (not that I can use the word “decent” for him), to name a ship the Harvey Milk is even worse.
It even bothers me to have a ship named the Abraham Lincoln – his only wartime service was in the little-known and relatively tame Black Hawk War of 1832, in which he did not serve in combat though elected as captain of his militia company (and he was running for US House at the time!).
It is not as though there is any shortage of brave men (and women) who fought valiantly and many times died in combat. Even if some of them later dishonored their military service by becoming scumbag politicians. (Harry Truman and D. D. Eisenhower and U.S. Grant all come to mind.)
So this is a good thing – even if it is just eyewash. At least the sailors and marines on board the USS Doris Miller can honestly honor their ship’s namesake as someone who did his duty and stood by his oath, despite being discriminated against and relegated to lower-class status.