Life’s Most Urgent Question

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Below is a note I sent my squadron last year on the occasion of Martin Luther King Jr Day. It was early in what would turn out to be an extremely difficult seven months at sea. I’ve since moved on into retirement, but after having spent only four months at home (some of that away on training), this team is back out on deployment — again. This time it’s with another Skipper and some new faces, but I’m confident what remains consistent is the unwavering focus on the team.

January 20, 2020:

Zappers, Back home our families and friends are taking today off from work and school in honor of the late Dr Martin Luther King Jr. While we don’t have the luxury of taking days off out here, I would ask that each of you take a minute or two today to reflect on where you are and who you’re with. I believe if you do that, you’ll have done a little something to recognize and appreciate Dr King’s work.

Where are you: you’re on a United States Navy warship at sea. This huge piece of floating steel is one of the most complicated masses of machinery ever assembled. It requires a massive team to simply keep it safely afloat and steaming forward, to say nothing of actually employing its main weapons system — our aircraft. This ship would fail almost immediately if it weren’t for the effort of the team. The team.

Who are you with: if you’re a Zapper, you’re with shipmates from every corner of our country. You’re with shipmates from Europe, Africa, Asia, Central America, and nearly every corner in between. You’re with men, women, straight, gay — you’re with America. But recall that this wasn’t always the case in our country, and especially not on our warships. Dr King’s vision and work, while primarily focused on righting the wrongs waged against Black Americans, set a tone and path to break down inequalities and injustices for all of us. Our TEAM is stronger and more dangerous to any potential enemy because we’re all different, and because we tackle challenges differently. Knowing that we can all safely and confidently show up for work each day regardless of the color of our skin, regardless of the god we worship, regardless of the town we come from, regardless of who we go home to — that, in my opinion, is ultimately what Dr King dreamed of — for all of us.

I’m proud to be a part of your team,

Skipper

Retired Naval Aviator.