The United States Naval Institute just published a column with the provocative premise that the Pentagon should stop naming aircraft carriers after former presidents.
And why? Because presidents are "political," and politics just generates bad blood.
"Naming ships that may be with us over half a century is no small thing. Politicians can be divisive and, over time, history can reveal aspects of them that may not make them the most motivating icon to wear on your cover. Let's move on," says the writer.
Every single president ever elected in the United States of America has been the embodiment of evil to at least some of the voters. We had a revolution so that we could complain about our leaders without fear.
There were political operatives in 1789 who believed (or at least promoted the idea) that the inauguration of George Washington meant the end of the American Experiment. And we all know how things went for that Lincoln guy in the 1860s.
We've named 10 aircraft carriers after presidents:
- USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CV-42)
- USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67)
- USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69)
- USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71)
- USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72)
- USS George Washington (CVN-73)
- USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75)
- USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76)
- USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77)
- USS Gerald R. Ford (still under construction)
We're building a replacement JFK carrier now. In addition, we've named a nuclear attack submarine after Jimmy Carter (who actually served on one when he was in the Navy) and a Zumwalt-class destroy after Lyndon Baines Johnson.
Guess what? Every single one of those presidents has his detractors (even Ike), but each led our country at the request of its people. Even though they all may have generated hysterical opposition during their terms, time and maybe a little perspective has been kinder to their service than may have been deemed possible by their political enemies.
Whether any of us like it or not, the same will likely be true for Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
Maybe the USNI is just trolling us. They do let a columnist call himself or herself "Commander Salamander" and anonymously toss grenades into the public discourse. If the author really had strong feelings here, wouldn't he or she sign their work?
What do you think? Should the Navy keep naming ships after presidents? If you came from a family that raised you to think FDR was a toxic socialist, did it spoil your service to sail on a ship named after him? What would you do? Let us know in the comments and sound off!