During a recent visit to Washington DC I recognized a familiar silhouette in the distance… it was the statue of the Lone Sailor at the US Navy Memorial.
Continuing along my path, I approached this indomitable sentry, ever standing his watch. With his sea-bag beside him, he appears mindful of the job ahead. Months at sea, where a man can still feel alone, even among a few hundred other sailors serving aboard ship there with him. Twelve to sixteen hour days keeping his vessel battle ready, knowing that he and his comrades may be the only line of defense between the wolves, and those he cares about at home.
His expression is not a forlorn one, but one of steadfast and purposeful resolve. He knows he stands in the shadows, and yet upon the shoulders of so many who have stood the watch before him. He realizes the example he must set for those who will follow. His is a duty few men choose, but one he willingly bears.
Looking back upon my own submarine service I remember... I recall the long days at sea, and too, those somehow too short days in ports of call around the world. Across the years, the drudgery, and the boredom, seem so long ago now. But the memories of some past place, and the camaraderie found there, often comes unbidden to the fore.
The adventure is behind those of us who gather now. All that remains are those cherished memories of service and adventure, the march of time, and the eventual loss of yet another shipmate.
Perhaps that is what we see in the eyes of this representative of those who go down to the sea in ships: this vigilant sailor. He is both a replica of those thousands of living, breathing, sailors who currently keep our nation safe, yet also represents every sailor who has ever gone down to the sea to stand the watch. His unspoken comment to those who forever stand silently beside him: