COLUMN: Remembering Lincoln aboard his namesake ship

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By Captain Ron Ravelo Commanding Officer, USS Abraham Lincoln

As USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) continues its third year in its refueling and complex overhaul in Newport News, Virginia, we will see the enhancements to more than 80 percent of our spaces. From the top of the island superstructure to the lowest deck of the aircraft carrier, practically every space will witness some form of rework.

Despite the ongoing ship construction, it is most appropriate that we remember our namesake. Our carrier is named after our nation’s 16th president who died at 7:22 a.m. on April 15, 1865 - 150 years ago. We pay homage to the passing of our namesake and the never-ending legacy he has left on our great nation. Each and every day our crew, and arguably every member of our service, continues to uphold our nation as the beacon of hope and freedom set in motion by President Lincoln more than 150 years ago.

As the commanding officer of USS Abraham Lincoln, I am humbled to serve aboard this fine carrier and lead the men and women who serve aboard this warship. When redelivered to the fleet in the fall of 2016, we will return a fully operational warship manned with trained warriors. Our ship will continue to serve the people of our great country for another 25 years and with it will continue to carry forth the proud legacy of President Abraham Lincoln. When USS Abraham Lincoln does return to sea as a living symbol of our 16th president, she will be infused with the will, the spirit, and the dedication of those great sailors, past, present, and future who have, and will, darken her passageways.

Our 16th president was known for his leadership, innovation and integrity. These same traits resonate today in our sailors who serve on board. Every day, our sailors are exhibiting and asserting their leadership to maintain our course through RCOH by exercising innovative thinking as they discover new ways to solve complex problems.

”Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere.” - President Abraham Lincoln

President Lincoln displayed exceptional strength, courage and conviction during his first term of his presidency and his shortened second term in office. His qualities have continued to shape our country’s history. Lincoln witnessed a transformation of our nation between his nomination for president in 1860 to the end of the Civil War. But sadly his life was drastically cut short by an assassin’s bullet while at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C., on April 14, 1865. As I write this, I think of our ship’s motto of “Shall Not Perish” from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address delivered on Nov. 19, 1863.

”It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -  that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” - President Abraham Lincoln

From April 13 to 15, sailors assigned to USS Abraham Lincoln were scheduled to participate in various events to commemorate the life and legacy of President Lincoln. Some of those events included participating in a ceremony on April 13 at President Lincoln’s cottage in Washington, D.C., to mark the 150th anniversary of his last visit. Sailors also participated in a commemoration ceremony at Ford’s Theater on April 14, and attended a ceremony at The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation in Springfield, Illinois, on April 15.

Chief Cryptologic Technician (Collection) Jeremy Crandall participated in an essay writing contest sponsored by The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation in Springfield to mark the 150th anniversary of the delivery of the Gettysburg Address.

I close with Chief Crandall’s words, which are most fitting on a day when we remember a president whose spirit continues through the ages, “Your efforts, your words, inspire and teach to this day. For the people, by the people. We survive as do you. Shall Not Perish.”