“The first F-18 Super Hornet, that was from the VFA 115 Eagles, has launched off the USS Abraham Lincoln.”
CNN’s Kyra Phillips aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln
Do you remember working there, in the Gulf, aboard the Lincoln and below the waterline? Remember the heat and noise and smelly coworkers who slept next to us? It was different to me then–war and battle, and until recently I wondered why.
Back then I not only felt the immortality of youth but also secretly believed that the US was somehow untouchable. Above reproach. Since that time I have aged and terrorists have attacked the US and that has affected my opinion and feelings about this war in a way that I probably could have imagined. The passing of time and tragedy has shaped my definition of before and after, and opened my eyes to a line of distinction between then and now, yesterday and today.
Unlike those days when I was below the waterline, it’s no longer someone else’s problem. It’s not a joke. It’s not just a pain in the ass inconvenience of standing “6 and 6’s”. Suddenly it’s the world I live in and of which I am a functional part. It’s the world of people with whom I’ve worked. It’s penpals and business partners and academic colleagues and friends and customers all taking part in the situation. It’s not what it used to be to me. Before, back then. Yesterday.
The country is no longer untouchable and I’m not immortal anymore. I realize that 37 years on this planet mean the statistical halfway mark for my mortality, and as a compensation I see clearly the time that was the exuberant, shiny age of innocence in my life. I’m no longer a complaining young man living 30 feet below the waterline of an aircraft carrier. The innocence of that time is preserved as a part of that half of my life.
For me, 911 represented the end of a more innocent time in the world and this country, and I equate that innocence to the time of my experience in the Gulf aboard the 72. The time before. Then. Yesterday. I am in another half of my age, and it is different to me now–war and battle. It’s not someone else’s problem. It’s not a joke. This war and battle is an event that distinctly places itself in the time of my life that no longer enjoys youth and innocence. It’s part of the other statistical half, and it’s something that stirs a deep longing for that time of an America above reproach and the pain in the ass inconvenience of 6 and 6’s.