With all the Washington street theater buzz of recent days, it may be easy for some of us to overlook a quiet and important event that took place not far from the Capitol.
That would be the dedication, last Thursday, of a long-overdue memorial at Arlington National Cemetery in honor and memory of the USS Thresher.
New Hampshire, perhaps more than anywhere else, remembers the Thresher and her crew of 129 (including civilians). The spanking-new nuclear submarine, built at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, was doing its sea trials when it sank off the coast on April 10, 1963.
It was a loss of national proportions but, as with today’s crisis-of-the-moment mentality, the Thresher was soon pushed into the background. Later that year, a President would be assassinated.
The Thresher was a key part of our Cold War arsenal, designed to keep the Soviet Union at bay. The arsenal did its job, and the sacrifice of the Thresher played a role.
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen was a leader in the effort to establish the Thresher Memorial at Arlington.
Speaking at its dedication, she noted that “the loss of these men and their shipmates inspired the creation and implementation of the most comprehesive naval submarine safety program in the world.”
Known as “SUBSAFE,” not a single certified sub has been lost since the program began.
Through several generations now, Thresher family members and friends have kept alive the memories even as the loss and heartache remain.
We all might stop for a moment this weekend and say a prayer of thanks for their sacrifice.