I AM THE AMERICAN SAILOR!
Hear my voice, America! Though I speak through the mist of 200 years, my shout for freedom will echo through liberty’s halls for many centuries to come. Hear me speak, for my words are of truth and justice, and the rights of man. For those ideals I have spilled my blood upon the world’s troubled waters. Listen well, for my time is eternal – yours is but a moment.
I am the spirit of heroes past and future. I am the American Sailor. I was born upon the icy shores at Plymouth, rocked upon the waves of the Atlantic, and nursed in the wilderness of Virginia. I cut my teeth on New England codfish, and I was clothed in southern cotton. I built muscle at the halyards of New Bedford whalers, and I gained my sea legs high atop the mizzen of Yankee clipper ships.
Yes, I am the American Sailor, one of the greatest seamen the world has ever known. The sea is my home and my words are tempered by the sound of paddle wheels on the Mississippi and the song of whales off Greenland’s barren shore. My eyes have grown dim from the glare of sunshine on blue water, and my heart is full of star-strewn nights under the Southern Cross.
My hands are raw from winter storms while sailing down round the Horn, and they are blistered from the heat of cannon broadside while defending our nation. I am the American Sailor, and I have seen the sunset of a thousand distant, lonely lands. I am the American Sailor. It was I who stood tall beside John Paul Jones as he shouted, “I have not yet begun to fight!” I fought upon Lake Erie with Perry, and I rode with Stephen Decatur into Tripoli harbor to burn Philadelphia.
I met Guerriere aboard Constitution, and I was lashed to the mast with Admiral Farragut at Mobile Bay. I have heard the clang of Confederate shot against the sides of Monitor. I have suffered the cold with Peary at the North Pole, and I responded when Dewey said, “You may fire when ready Gridley,” at Manila Bay. It was I who transported supplies through submarine infested waters when our soldier’s were called “over there.” I was there as Admiral Byrd crossed the South Pole. It was I who went down with the Arizona at Pearl Harbor, who supported our troops at Inchon, and patrolled dark deadly waters of the Mekong Delta.
I am the American Sailor and I wear many faces. I am a pilot soaring across God’s blue canopy and I am a Seabee atop a dusty bulldozer in the South Pacific. I am a corpsman nursing the wounded in the jungle, and I am a torpedoman in the Nautilus deep beneath the North Pole. I am hard and I am strong.
But it was my eyes that filled with tears when my brother went down with the Thresher, and it was my heart that rejoiced when Commander Shepherd rocketed into orbit above the earth. It was I who lanquished in a Viet Cong prison camp, and it was I who walked upon the moon. It was I who saved the Stark and the Samuel B. Roberts in the mine infested waters of the Persian Gulf. It was I who pulled my brothers from the smoke filled compartments of the Bonefish and wept when my shipmates died on the Iowa and White Plains. When called again, I was there, on the tip of the spear for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
I am the American Sailor. I am woman, I am man, I am white and black, yellow, red and brown. I am Jew, Muslim, Christian and Buddhist. I am Irish, Filipino, African, French, Chinese, and Indian. And my standard is the outstretched hand of Liberty.
Today, I serve around the world, on land, in air, on and under the sea. I serve proudly, at peace once again, but with the fervent prayer that I need not be called again.
Tell your children of me. Tell them of my sacrifice, and how my spirit soars above their country. I have spread the mantle of my nation over the ocean and I will guard her forever. I am her heritage and yours.
I AM THE AMERICAN SAILOR!
9/11/2001 – We will never forget!