Lord knows I hate to be a cynic. Cynical people are not attractive and they hardly ever get invited to parties. (Come to think of it, it’s been a long time since I’ve been invited to a party . . .)
Anyway, I hate to be a cynic. But when I read an Associated Press story that the U.S.Navy is planning to name a nuclear submarine after the state of North Dakota, I experienced one of those cynical moments that I sometimes have. Come on! A nuclear submarine named the USS North Dakota??!!?? When was the last time you saw a nuclear submarine docked anywhere near Bismarck? Or Dickinson? Or Fargo, for that matter? Can you see a submarine docked on the Red River, waiting to debark sailors for shore leave in Grand Forks?
It seems that after intensive lobbying by two North Dakota Democratic senators and a representative, the governor of North Dakota personally convinced Navy Secretary Donald C. Winter to name the new nuclear powered submarine currently under construction the USS North Dakota. Since the only other nuclear submarines named after states that I could find were Virginia, Texas, and Hawaii—three states that actually have water on their shores—this might be a stretch.
The governor’s delegation finally persuaded Secretary Winter to name the submarine after their state when they promised that North Dakota was "not just after a name on the hull" (how rude to even imply that). North Dakota would be “a supportive community” to the sailors on the ship. I guess that implies that the next time those sailors dock in Fargo, the city fathers will throw a picnic in Lindenwood Park. Brats and potato salad for everyone and free admission to an NDSU Bison game at the Fargo Dome!
The only saving grace in all of this is that if you go to the website www.nvr.navy.mil/nvrships/name.htm, you will find that it’s highly possible that North Dakota currently is the only state in the union that doesn’t already have a Navy ship named after it. How fair is that? Apparently the other 49 states already have a namesake Navy ship—plus there are ships named after every native American tribe, every U.S. territory, former presidents, hundreds of large cities, several fruits and vegetables, countless animals, some valuable minerals, and retired admirals too numerous to mention. Even South Dakota has a ship named after it, for Pete’s sake!
So I guess it’s only fair that the central-most landlocked state in the union has a Navy ship named after it, too. I’ll put my cynicism aside and be happy for North Dakota’s new nuclear submarine, the USS North Dakota. I would rank it right up there with its bragging rights for being the geographical center of North America—at the 15-foot rock obelisk in Rugby, North Dakota, right next to the waterfront.