Sunday, July 24, 2011

America is loosing its competitive spirit. Years ago we were in constant competition for the most bombs, we had to be first on the moon we wanted the fastest boats and the largest cars. Not anymore, the United States dollar isn’t even sought after in Europe. We have drifted so low since the Kennedy era that our credit rating is about to be reduced worldwide.
Our budget spends a lot of money to keep a military presence all over the world. We have scraped the space program and gave control to the Russians or to private companies that will send space travel to tourists. The fastest trains are being built and run in China. We haven’t been able to convert our automobiles to being spacious but ecologically efficient. We lost the Concord so no one can fly quickly anywhere. Our innovations in boat travel aren’t impressive anymore. What happened to American drive to be great?
At least we shouldn’t forget our advancements from the past. It was July 3, 1952 about 59 years ago. An important day that most Americans do not even know about anymore. It was the launch day of the S. S .United States. Yes, a proud day for our country because it proved just another time how impressive this country was in its innovation and technological prowess.
It was a new ocean liner that set sale on its first voyage from New York to Europe. It was designed by William Frances Gibbs. It held the distinction as being the biggest passenger vessel ever launched at 1,000 feet long in America. More importantly, it was the fastest vessel ever. It completed its transatlantic voyage in just 3 and a half days traveling at a speed of 40 miles per hour. It broke the record that Britain’s Queen Mary held for 14 years.
It turned around and also broke the westbound record for speed as well. There were celebrations and a small craft welcome when it returned to New York. In the 50’s and 60’s the S. S. United States was the most luxurious and fastest way to cross the Atlantic Ocean in style. There were celebrities like Bob Hope, John Wayne, Judy Garland and Charlton Heston on each voyage. The ship played a staring role in the 1962 Disney film Bon Voyage starring Fred McMurray and Jane Wyman.
A quote from the film is when Fred McMurray’s character describes to Jane Wyman’s character the experience. “When you step aboard this luxury liner, your cares will magically vanish. Anxieties disappear, you will live a few carefree days afloat.” Even with its amenities and speed, it was still the era of great air travel. Then in November of 1969 after 400 successful voyages, the S, S, United States was taken out of service.
Today, the former pride of the American passenger fleet sits as a faded relic at a Philadelphia pier not far from Independence Hall. It’s current owner is the S. S. United States Conservancy that is searching a way to restore the vessel to its former glory. America is in deep financial trouble. We can’t even afford to restore the great things produced in this century. Like junk in your attic, so goes America’s space program, fabulous boats, trains, and our value in the American Dollar. Poof!

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