The Merchant Marine and Mom
As of late I have been reading about the iconic, noble statesman, Winston Churchill. To say Churchill was an influential figure in world history is an absurd understatement. Rarely does a single man shape world events so significantly. One of the great things about Churchill was his ability to distill the better aspects of human character down to a short statement or phrase. These well-timed expressions inspired, motivated, and sustained the populations of many nations throughout the trials of the Second World War.
Sir Winston is no longer with us but if he were I suspect he would have something to say about how a nation’s merchant marine is a barometer of that nation’s health. Something like: “The measure of a nation’s greatness is seen in how it maintains its Merchant Navy.” Merchant Navy, of course, the term being used by the British in reference to a country’s fleet of merchant ships.
I hear women say all the time that you can tell what kind of husband a man will be by the way he treats his mother. I suppose there is some truth to that. After all, clichés are clichés for a reason, aren’t they? Let me draw a parallel here. Let’s assume that since it was originally merchant shipping that facilitated discovery of, helped sustain, and enabled the growth of the United States, that the merchant marine is the metaphorical mother of our country. Under that assumption let’s look at how the United States treats its merchant fleet.
Our country and its citizens abandon the U.S. flag vessels for flags of convenience. Our Maritime Administration searches for every way possible to avoid shipping its cargo aboard U.S. flag vessels. Our legislature passes laws that hinder U.S. maritime commerce while at the same time failing to pass laws that would facilitate it.
If we compare the way the United States government and its agencies support the U.S. merchant marine to the way a guy treats his mother, then the U.S. would be a promiscuous, dishonest, wife-beating alcoholic (no offense to alcoholics intended) who is unable to control his spending and is unsuitable for marriage.
Many who observe the political climate in Washington would agree that this is a fair assessment of the current state of affairs.
I would suggest that to change that sentiment, we as a nation begin with our merchant marine. We need to start fostering policies that support its growth. Our government agencies need to find ways to ship goods on U.S. flag ships. As a nation we need to make the U.S. flagged merchant marine a priority. After all, how we treat the merchant marine fleet in this country is a testament to the type of nation we are. Let’s focus on the one thing that we can all agree will make this country great again. Let’s grow the United States Merchant Marine fleet and make Sir Winston proud.