There are different kinds of love some of us experience throughout our lives. Most of these loves are of the human-to-human type, like the ones we have for our parents, siblings, wife and children, grandparents, and all the other parts of our families. We also have a feeling akin to love for some close friends, but there is another type of love some men like me have had for metal things that cannot love them back.
For me it started with an old pocket knife that was given to me by an uncle when I was around 10 years old. I loved that knife and would pull it out to show to my friends as often as I could. The knife did not love me back, of course, and it would even hurt me on occasion, causing my mother to take it away for a while.
The next thing metal that stole my heart was a bicycle; it was red and shiny and I loved it in spite of the scrapes and bruises it gave me. My first car was a ‘49 Plymouth, and by all standards could not be thought of as a cool car, but I loved it and bragged on it like it was a Cadillac.
The love I had for those metal objects pales in comparison, however, to the feelings I still have for the old ships I served on as a sailor. I am not unique in this, and I doubt you could find many old sailors who served on ships that would not express an emotional attachment to their haze grey ships.
I guess that is why one of the saddest things for a sailor to hear is that a ship he served on has been cut up for scrap. Most sailors will remember the haze gray heroes on which they spent much of their youth with love and hate to think of them as scrap.
I still remember as a young sailor watching tearful old sailors come to the pier where my ship was tied behind an old aircraft carrier, the USS Franklin. They had come to say goodbye to their ship that had survived WWII but could not survive the cutting torch, which is the fate of ships that can no longer go to sea.
This poem is for them and all the sailors who will never forget the love a man can have for a piece of haze gray metal.
Dirty grey she stands alone
at a distant pier abandoned
Rusted now and battle worn
forgotten there and stranded
In years gone by she made her way
through heavy seas and battles
In peace and war, she had her say
With guns and saber rattles
Crews she knew will always care
but know her future fate
And as the torches strip her bare
can only stand and wait
Lady greys will always live
in sailor’s memories
Loved for all they had to give
to win their victories