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Independent’s Day: The USS Arlington

by Jason Howell February 6, 2013 at 3:45 pm 6 Comments

Independent’s Day is a weekly opinion column by published on Wednesdays. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Independent Congressional candidate Jason HowellIn our area, Arlington, Virginia is known for many things; both serious and perhaps a little frivolous (thanks Remy).

To the world, Arlington is home to the Pentagon:  the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense. As one of three crash sites on 9/11/2001, the Pentagon and our county share a unique history with New York City and Somerset, Pennsylvania. The USS New York (LPD-21) was commissioned on 11/2/2009 and the USS Somerset (LPD-25) was christened on 7/28/2012. This spring, Arlington will join those cities in commemorating the September 11th attacks when the USS Arlington (LPD-24) is commissioned.

The USS Arlington (LPD-24) is a San Antonio-class, amphibious transport dock built to host 800 Marines. These ships are meant to head a transformation and modernization of Navy ships to aid in Marine deployment. This particular vessel will be the third in the United States Navy to bear Arlington’s name but the first to travel throughout the world with steel taken from the crash site at the Pentagon.

Aboard the ship will be a tribute room to honor the lives lost due to the hijacking of American Airlines Flight 77. This ship’s sponsor is Mrs. Joyce Rumsfeld, wife of former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld.  At the 2011 christening, Mrs. Rumsfeld was quoted this way by a Mississippi blog:

“To me, this ship represents to full story of that day, the unimaginable followed by the courage, determination, focus and love of country that was demonstrated every day after 9/11,” Rumsfeld said. “It represents the first responders, the men and women working at the Pentagon, the families, the hard hats, the construction workers, doctors, nurses, hospital staff, volunteers, chaplains, residents of Arlington.”

Every person’s experience with 9/11 is personal. Like many I was at work when the attacks began. Some people were quiet, some people immediately started crying and some people started crying as the morning wore on. A couple of executives took charge and I remember one in particular admitting that he didn’t know whether it was safer to stay at work or head to the Metro. We each had a personal reaction to what happened that day and annually we are reminded of that experience; whether we want to be or not. This Navy ship provides one other way for us to share a uniquely local experience with the world.

USS Arlington (photo courtesy Northrop Grumman)The Navy League of Hampton Roads, a 501 (c) (3) organization, members of the Arlington community and Northern Virginia residents have formed a commissioning committee for a possible April 6th commissioning ceremony. The Sun Gazette recently reported the bipartisan nature of this venture with both County Democrats and County Republicans in support of this very “Arlington” project.

We can support the USS Arlington commissioning by donating directly to the Navy League of Hampton Roads or by celebrating local business owners who show their support by displaying a door decal which bears the emblem.

“Never Forget” is the official byword for the commissioning committee; as if we ever could actually forget. The three naval ships, now including our USS Arlington, will travel for years throughout international waters to ensure that neither will the rest of the world.

For more information on how you can participate as a volunteer, donor or in any other capacity, just send a note to [email protected] or call 703-328-5246.

Jason Howell, a former accountant and motivational speakerran as an independent candidate for U.S. Congress in 2012.

  • CourthouseChris


    • Barry

      Further context to Arlington’s relationship to the Pentagon crash, the flight’s co-pilot was a Yorktown alumni.

      • Hoya

        I was at the Pentagon on 9/11 and am familiar with a lot of what happened and the surrounding circumstances but was not aware that the co-pilot attended Yorktown. Thanks for sharing that information.

  • Ziv

    Excellent article, Jason. That was a day that will live in the minds of everyone old enough to remember it. I was on Memorial Bridge around 10 am and I just remember how odd it was to see all the cars in every lane (?) going in one direction at around 15 miles and hour. And how many of the cars had their windows open, as if to allow us on the sidewalk to hear the radio. And how the face of every person walking on the bridge snapped up and tracked the F-16’s as they flew over, thinking that a jet could be another suicide flight, and then realizing it was an F-16 and one of ours…
    I think it is more than appropriate to name the ships as they have done.

  • Rory

    Who the hell cares what Mrs Rumsfeld thinks? How does one get to be a ship sponsor?

    Her husband was one of the worst Defense Secretary’s in American history, if not the worst. He was absolutely instrumental in deceiving the American people into supporting a war of choice, of war with disastrious consequences, a war that caused exponentially more bloodshed than 9/11, a war that will go down as (with Vietnam) the biggest foreign policy blunder of American history. On top of that, when we went in he did such a poor job of planning for occupation the place exploded. He managed to be arrogant and dismissive of criticism til the day President Bush asked for his resignation.
    “Democracy is messy”-his response to the utter chaos and violence in early post invasion Iraq, being one such example of his leadership and character.
    “That is the product of old thinking and everything that is wrong with the military.”-His response to Generals suggesting we should have more troops in Iraq for the occupation.
    A personal favorite of mine is his telling troops who asked why, in a country that spends more on defense spending then the rest of the world combined, do they have to use scap metal from trash heaps to arm their vehicles, “You go to war with the army you have, not the one you want. Tanks full of armor still can get blown up.”

    A few more choice ones:

    “I don’t do quagmires”
    “The insurgency is a bunch of dead enders”
    “Why do you focus on the negative?”

    He also made a fortune by getting Aspartamine, a carcinogen, approved for sale.

    Apologies for the rant, but to see his wife allowed to be involved in this is truly mind boggling to me.

    • Buckingham Bandit

      Please don’t tell me you’re naive enough to not understand that political connections trump most other factors in this town.


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