Heroes under the water

I took a tour of a World War II submarine two weeks ago and it is an experience I would strongly encourage. I do not believe you can truly understand the difficulty of this job unless you physically tour the submarine. I walked through tiny doors into cramped hallways, and I appreciated even more how much our soldiers sacrifice to keep us safe and protect our liberty.

In just under 312 feet in extremely cramped quarters, 88 men toiled to keep the submarine operational. I cannot imagine the physical and psychological strain that would have taken. After only 20 minutes, I was looking around for an exit and nearly left the ship early. The men who served on these subs were in there for three months at a time, rarely seeing daylight. Working a four hour shift in a 120 degree engine room must have been incredibly physically taxing.

The submarine crew were not only physically strong, they had to be extremely intelligent as well – memorizing every job on the ship so they could take over. The crew did get paid more, and had access to better food, but they faced a fatality rate of 20 percent. They also had to pass a very strict exam to be placed on a submarine.

I only got a small sample of what submarine life must have been like, and that was enough. Whether or not we agree with the wars we fight, we should appreciate and respect the soldiers and sailors who fought in those wars. And because war is a terrible thing that is so incredibly physically, mentally and emotionally taxing, our leaders need to be very careful about sending our soldiers and sailors into harm’s way. Too often, both Republicans and Democrats have been willing to engage in military conflict too easily. That needs to change.