One of the many attributes of Wilmington, North Carolina is that it serves as home to a very real part of an integral piece of our American history. The USS North Carolina Battleship rests there as a reminder to all who visit of the brave men who served on her during WWII.
We had the chance to visit the Battleship early last summer. I really wasn’t interested in going. Standing on an old boat getting fried by the sun was not how I wanted to spend my day. I was ready to get to the beach and get fried by the sun near the water. However, my husband wanted to stop and I thought it would be a good educational experience for the kids. As a homeschool mom, that always wins out.
Once we arrived, and I realized what an integral part the USS North Carolina played in WWII, I quickly changed my attitude. As someone who loves history and has loved ones who served in WWII, it wasn’t just some old boat. To me, it was a place that young men, lived, ate, received mail, showered, and slept. It was a place that witnessed their courage corral their fearful hearts to do what they had to; not only to save their own lives, but to protect their loved ones at home, and to fight for freedom.
My Great Uncle Boyd wasn’t in the Navy, but he was in the Marines and he did serve in WWII. I’ll never forget those few stories he told about his experiences in Iwo Jima. He didn’t talk about it much, but when he did, we listened. So, while we toured the ship, I could see shadows of young men, just like him, standing guard on the deck, picking up his mail in the mail room, and peeling potatoes in the kitchen while missing their families, but knowing that because of what they were doing they would be able to go home to their families later. what they were doing was much more important than being home with loved ones. He was a part of a generation that understood sacrifice.
It was a really good family day full of important history. My husband and sons loved every aspect of the ship. I think I could see the wheels of imagination turning in their heads. Remembering what happened yesterday is vital when preparing for tomorrow.