I walked the Freedom Trail in Boston today, ending up at the USS Constitution. I opted not to get in line to tour that ship — besides having a long line, while I understand the need for security I resent having to go through airport-style screening to get into what is effectively a museum — and went onboard the USS Cassin Young instead (it’s in dry dock next to the Constitution).
A fascinating example of a WWII destroyer (or destroyer escort). But the ship’s name was even more interesting.
Cassin Young commanded a repair ship in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He was blown off his ship when the Arizona went up, but swam back, took command, and got his ship to safety while rescuing a bunch of sailors who were in the drink, all while under intense enemy fire. He won the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions, and the command of the USS San Francisco…on whose bridge he was killed in the battle of Guadalcanal. That got him a ship named after himself.
It made me wonder how many other amazing stories lie behind ships’ names.
And it also reminded me that heroes don’t just exist in comic books and movies. sometimes they move among us and we don’t even recognize they’ve passed by.