Another Perspective

A City of Infamy

What compelled San Francisco to sink the USS Iowa?

By 8.29.05

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For years, those on the far left have repeatedly maintained that they support the U.S. military while, in reality, they oppose nearly every incidence of its deployment. Now it seems their animosity is not just reserved for our most recent forays. Apparently the Iraq War has soured them retrospectively on earlier battles for freedom as well.

There is no greater proof of this shift than the recent debacle involving the Board of Governors of liberal bastion San Francisco and its rejection of the retired WWII battleship, USS Iowa. Though some seek to frame this as a military gay-rights issue, the primary objections are clear.

After California's congressional delegation -- led by Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein and Nancy Pelosi -- succeeded in 1999 in securing a $3 million grant from Congress to transport her from Rhode Island to the Golden State's Suisan Bay, it seemed the Iowa was well on its way to a permanent berth in the city by the bay.

Led by the Historic Ship Memorial at Pacific Square group, the city since 1993 had lobbied to gain the ship, known as the "Big Stick," whose history spans fifty years of valiant service. After winning nine battle stars during the Second World War and two during the Korean War, a controversial accident on one of her gun turrets killed 47 crewmen in 1989 and she was decommissioned a year later.

For the record, the Iowa was commissioned in February, 1943 and participated in many WWII battles including Guam, Okinawa, Leyte Gulf and Wake Island. She also returned President Roosevelt from the 1943 Teheran Conference and was Admiral Halsey's flagship for the surrender ceremony of Japan in September 1945.

But the sacrifices of the thousands who served aboard the Iowa and the millions who defended this country before and after her final voyage have been damned by association with a U.S. military that, in the minds of the far left, stands for cruel repression and conquest.

Without waiting for the bones of the "greatest generation" to grow cold, some liberals are already showing their gratitude. As one leftist writes in a letter in reference to Frisco's attempts to gain the Iowa, "The days of military glorification and addiction are over. We need hopeful symbols, not more war toys. We didn't want the Mighty Mo (USS Missouri) home-ported here way back when, and we don't want it now, even as a relic."

San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly, who voted against the resolution to acquire the Iowa, also spoke out: "I am sad to say I am not proud of the history of the United States of America since the 1940s." This is strange to hear from the lips of a liberal, considering that their stranglehold on the culture of America began its ascendancy around that time, spreading inward from the east and west coasts.

But we know what Mr. Daly really means. He means he's not proud of the U.S. military's history during and after the Cold War when, thanks to the indomitable spirit of her fighting men and women and the determination of a few Commanders in Chief, millions of human beings were delivered from the bondage of communism and totalitarianism.

Eight of Mr. Daly's eleven colleagues concurred with his opinion. Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi said quizzically, "If I was going to commit any kind of money in recognition of war, then it should be toward peace, given what our war is in Iraq right now."

Sadly, Mr. Mirkarimi, like most leftists, fails to realize that with tyrants and terrorists, peace only comes after a victorious war. This lesson should have been obvious to students of WWII in particular, and ships like the USS Iowa should be venerated as illustrations of that fact.

Only six years ago, the city seemed ready to accept the Iowa as a tribute to its long national service and as a floating tourist attraction. Even anti-war congresswoman Lynn Woolsey was ready to welcome the "Big Stick:" "Unless there is some unforeseen circumstance... San Francisco will soon have a new museum dedicated to those who served in our Navy."

So what caused the shift in opinion? Could it be that the "unforeseen circumstance" is that the military has actually been called to the purpose for which it exists?

It is absurd to say that you can support our soldiers but not the military they make up; that you can support the troops even if you don't support the mission. Soldiers fight wars and battles, voluntarily. And they do it for all of us, without regard to political affiliation.

In a city celebrated for its tolerance, you'd think that a portion of compassion might be summoned up for those who love and respect the heritage of this country and most importantly, for those who defend it.

Lisa Fabrizio is a columnist who hails from Connecticut. You may write her here.

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About the Author

Lisa Fabrizio is a columnist who hails from Connecticut (mailbox@lisafab.com).