Write Anywhere #74

We’ve reached the last part of my August travels. It’s been a wonderful journey that I’ve enjoyed reliving by sharing it with you here on the blog. I know most of you have probably caught up with me at this point, but just in case, here is how the adventure went down:

Driving down Interstate 44 towards Tulsa, I reflected upon all my experiences over the past week. No matter how much you want to shield your children from hurt in this world, it’s going to happen in one form or another. As devastating as their experience was, I was proud of how the kids were handling it. I knew they would be okay.

I also discovered  Read More


Write Anywhere #56

by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador

Write Anywhere Venues have been a great way to continue to challenge myself to find creativity in all kinds of places, both mundane and unusual. For me, it has helped with my sometimes crushing procrastination by helping me to realize I don’t have to have ‘just perfect’ conditions to write. It’s also shown me that I am creative even when I don’t feel it so much. I love how being intentional about finding different places to write has helped me to mine my own emotional and creative depths.

I found myself experiencing a lot of emotion at this week’s Write Anywhere venue. In honor of Veteran’s Day, I wanted to find a place that symbolized the honor and appreciation we as a country feel for our veterans. I didn’t realize how it would affect me personally.

Write Anywhere#56: Submarine

U.S.S. Batfish

A half hour’s drive south on the turnpike brought me to one of the most unusual attractions in Oklahoma and the most unusual place I’ve written thus far. Right after you cross over the Arkansas River heading towards Muskogee is the War Memorial Park and Military Museum featuring the U.S.S. Batfish, a World War II submarine.

Memorial plaques for submarines that never made it home leading to the U.S.S. Batfish

The museum is a great collection of memorabilia from virtually all the wars the U.S. has been involved with, from the Revolutionary War to San Juan Hill to Afghanistan.

On the grounds you can see the rusted mast of the U.S.S. Oklahoma. The Oklahoma was one of three battleships, along with the U.S.S. Arizona and U.S.S. Utah that were sunk at Pearl Harbor and never returned to sea duty.

It’s an interesting story how a submarine came to settle in landlocked Oklahoma. After veterans worked with the government to sponsor a decommissioned submarine to bring to Oklahoma for memorial/educational purposes, they had to tow it from New Orleans up the Mississippi River through the McClellan-Kerr Navigation Channel to the Arkansas River to the Port of Muskogee and flood the field where it now sits. It’s still near the river and it’s moored, I suppose in case the river rises.

The U.S.S. Batfish is a Baleo-class submarine over 300 feet long, weighing in at just about 700 tons, and fully armed carried 24 torpedoes. She had a proud history serving in the World War II Pacific theatre and brought her crew home.

Many other submarines were not as fortunate. The war memorial features a bronze plaque for each of the 52 submarines lost at sea during World War II, listing its accomplishments, the circumstances of its sinking, and those that know eternally stand duty. I decided to read the majority of them, and it was a sobering experience.

Especially poignant were several stories of subs blown out of the water, a group of sailors somehow surviving that, only to find themselves floating in the middle of the Pacific with no supplies and no way of contact. Of those sailors, a scant few survived to be picked up by the enemy and put in prisoner of war camps. Of those only one or two lived to tell the tale.

After reading about all these brave men, I boarded the Batfish. What is so unique about the sub is that they have kept it pretty much the way it was. There are no signs telling you about what things are or what occurred in which area. (You can take a virtual tour on their website to get more detailed information.) No video mini-documentaries like they have in many museums. It’s just the sub. It still smells of machine oil.

I was the only one on the sub for the majority of my visit. Hauntingly quiet but for the creaks of your own footsteps and the groaning of the metal in the Oklahoma wind, it was like descending to another world.

view as you begin your descent into the submarine

I have trouble imagining how a crew of a hundred+ men lived and worked in such a small and poorly-lit space. It must have been perpetually hot and stuffy.

cramped quarters

Stepping through a hatch, I had to duck and in some of the spaces I couldn’t hold my purse next to me and make it through.

sleep tight

The men must have become so close, counting on one another for survival, for literally the air they breathed.

It is quiet now but there must have never been a lack of noise with the engines, the instruments, and the men themselves. Men worked in shifts and many of them shared the same bunk, but at different shift times, because there was not enough room for a bed for every sailor.

Every moment was shared, there was no helping it, even the most private ones.

One of the biggest spaces was the galley and the crew’s mess. The tables and benches were built-in, as well as the checker boards.

galley

crew’s mess hall

Something I wouldn’t have thought of had a place of its own.

songs of home

What songs played on that record player? Glenn Miller, Jimmy Dorsey, The Andrews Sisters?  What did the sailors, deep in the depths of the ocean, far away from all they knew, waiting for confrontation with the enemy, think of when they listened to songs from home?

maneuvering room

aft torpedo bay

I sat down at one of the galley tables. I imagined sailors writing to their sweethearts or their mothers or their children at these tables. Writing lines to loved ones they might never see again. It seemed like a sacred place as I scribbled some lines in my notebook:

Patrolling the black ocean night
Both predator and prey
Alert to the sounds of war
Sharing the sweat of their brow
Prepared to sacrifice blood
Secret tears shed for heart’s sorrow
While patrolling the black ocean night

If you want to read some poignant words from soldiers, I suggest this article:

If You’re Reading This…

My grandfather served in World War II as an aviation mechanic aboard the U.S.S. San Jacinto. Visiting the U.S.S. Batfish helped me gain a greater appreciation for him, my Keeper Hubby Marine and all those who have served our country. I hope it’s inspired you as well.

Thank you to all veterans.

Where did you write this week?

Question: Did you or a relative serve our country in the military? Tell us about it.

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Election Day 2012 Poll Results

“We the People…”

Has this election cycle gotten you in a tizzy? I made a point not to comment on all the hubbub. I wasn’t doing too bad until today. Today I must respond…

*****

Dear Complainers, Whiners, and People Being Rude to The VOLUNTEER Poll Workers on this Election Day 2012 because you stood in line for 15 minutes and they took too long to look up your name and you had to get your driver’s license out of your wallet and you couldn’t get your regular seat in Starbucks because of it:

I voted. I was in line behind several of you. I had to make time in my day to do it just like you did.

I took time to study the candidates and the issues. I endured insufferable commercials, a tree’s worth of candidates’ mail flyers and hateful rhetoric at the speed of social media for months.

I stood in line for a few minutes. It took a little effort. I voted.

I prayed for wisdom before I voted. I wasn’t forced to. I chose to. I could choose to gather with others who wanted to pray if I wanted. We would pray and worship, unmolested. We wouldn’t be dragged into the street to be beaten or killed.

My polling place is so close to my house I could walk there in ten minutes. I can also drive if I wanted. My polling place is inside a beautiful, warm senior care facility. It used to be in a large church. In the past my polling place has been in public school buildings and grocery stores. I didn’t have to walk over unpaved roads or through jungles or deserts for days to get to my polling place. I voted.

I wasn’t prevented from voting because of my gender. My great-grandmother couldn’t vote on her 18th birthday or her 21st or her 25th. That was only 92 years ago.

I wasn’t stopped from voting because of my race or what ethnic group I belong to or what part of the country I live in. I didn’t have to worry my neighbors would slaughter me and my family because I was in the minority and the government encouraged them to.

I didn’t have to bribe anyone to get a ballot. I only had to show proof I was me and sign my name on a dotted line. I wasn’t stopped from voting because I lack a certain amount of education. No one asked me if I had a grasp on all the issues or made me take a test. I voted.

I wasn’t stopped by machine guns or machetes or mobs with fists who didn’t agree with my vote. I wasn’t worried my vote put my family in danger, to be carried off in the dead of night.

I could wear whatever I wanted to my polling place. Makeup or no makeup. High heels or jeans. Straight hair or curls. I could show my head and face in the light of day without fear.

I read a book while I waited in line. I could read any book I wanted. I could read and no one would shoot me in the head because I could.

I could share publicly who I was voting for without worrying my house would be burned down or my livelihood taken away.

My children are old enough to vote. They will vote (or not) as they choose. I could have one or ten children, or no children, not as a government tells me I must. And those children may vote.

I voted because I can.

I voted because of Jefferson and Adams and Lincoln and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and Frederick Douglass and Theodore Roosevelt and Susan B. Anthony and Alice Paul and Rosa Parks and Ellis Island and sod busters and 49’ers and coal miners and assembly line workers and hash slingers and Woody Guthrie and Elvis and Bessie Smith and Bob Dylan and Steve Jobs and Billy Graham.

I voted because of San Francisco and Joplin and the Lower Ninth Ward and Times Square. I voted because of Lexington and Concord, Vicksburg, the Alamo, San Juan Hill, Pearl Harbor, and Normandy. I voted because of the Beirut Barracks, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the U.S.S. Cole, the Twin Towers, and Benghazi.

I voted because of Sarina Butcher and Anthony Del Mar Peterson and men and women who volunteer to protect my right to, with their lives if need be.

I voted for my 15-month old grandson, in the hope that government of the people, for the people, and by the people will not perish from the earth and he will be able to have this privilege. I voted.

I’m sorry you felt so put-upon and inconvenienced today.

Maybe tomorrow will be a better day.

Signed, A Grateful American

*****

My only political rant this year. Thank you for your patience.

Did you vote today? Want to get your political frustrations out one final time? Feel free to post in the comments.