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Lobbying for Missouri Freedoms and Their Vessels – Part One

Inside one of our Missouri lobbyist offices in St. Louis hangs an original Chicago Sun breaking news article. It reveals the last time when our Show-Me State leadership was instituted at the White House. The headline begins:

“Washington, April 12, 1945 – Fate today raised to the highest administrative post on earth a plain, friendly man from Missouri – Harry S. Truman.

On the eighth of next month he will be 61. As he steps into the bright light of world celebrity he can look back on a career that began behind a plow on a 600-acre farm near Kansas City…”

The epic months that followed America’s closure to World War II remind us all how amazing it was to have our entire country doing what they could to protect our liberties. Part of what made Truman’s legacy so memorable was that he rose to challenges thought to be much larger than anyone might choose for themselves.

This week, I was fortunate to join the St. Louis Science Center in their hosting of the USS Battleship Missouri Memorial event, along with the St. Louis Navy League. Under the stars of the planetarium, we were reminded how the American spirit of freedom was transformed into this monstrous structure of teak wood, steel, iron, and ammunition named ole “BB-63” – the USS Battleship Missouri.

Most had come to know the “Mighty MO” of our Pacific fleet as the place where Japan surrendered to America. Its presence for this conflict alone is enough to retire it admirably. However, I was amazed to learn about how seamen and technology adapted itself over the decades to project its capabilities even as recent as Operation Desert Storm.

When you think about lobbing 2,700 pound projectiles at a precise range from 16-23 miles using the analog computers from the 1930’s, our computing systems of today owes much to this military experience. When I think about how my uncle must have felt at Pearl Harbor walking to church when the sirens went off, you have to believe that surviving ships like “Mighty MO” were a substantial inspiration as he flew across the Pacific into harm’s way.

When you hear about the dent in the ships’ side left after a Japanese kamikaze pilot tried to sink it, it reminds us all of the value of mental toughness over adversity. The Mighty MO has always been about more than naval superiority, it’s 45,000 tons gave each generation something onto which we can attach our emotions.

At our dinner event, we were each given a small piece of teak wood from this historic deck, now in process of a historic preservation in Hawaii. The battleship is all but retired, except for an appearance before a Universal Studios upcoming movie in 2012. However, just like decades before, the USS Missouri is adapting its mission again – this time for science educators and their pupils. Over the next month, many school groups will use it as their living history classroom. The St. Louis region is fortunate to have at least two strong advocates for science education within Admiral (Ret) Lee Metcalfe and General Duncan J. McNabb.

The torch defending our freedom now passes to the next generation. Just like before, our country is stepping up with something bigger and better. In my next blog, we will feature what’s next to come: the USS Missouri Virginia class of submarine.

Travis H. Brown