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Jesus Chameleon


USS Missouri (A Battleship and Liberty's Light)

The Pacific Theater was visited by a monolithic godsend during those tumultuous times in World War II (WWII) boarded by a young man, a devout Latin Rite Catholic of Spanish-Chamoru heritage (parent and storyteller), who lived and fought on this Iowa-class battleship commissioned on June 11, 1944. Approaching Okinawa to escort the U.S. forces in the Pacific and to “provide direct and continuous support” to invasion landings by the Allied Powers up to “V-J Day” was one significant event that stood out for me in history, but to serve as the actual ship for the signing of Japanese surrender papers early on September 2, 1945---site of the surrender of the Empire of Japan---is incomprehensible in its magnitude even for this loyal son of a humble soldier who fought valiantly during WWII.

For the men who fought during WWII on battleships, imaginably, it must have been part of a young man's story of adventure on the high seas and part of coming of age. For the mere fan of history, it must have been unimaginable to have lived and learned in the cabins of such a historical ship. In general, for me and for the casual observer, it was an important part of history and no less than an essential part of an opportunity to put national socialism on trial at that. It is for me and for a political scientist, every reason for the preservation of the spirit of The Atlantic Charter.

Dark night gladiola! Sweet Lady Liberty, see!
Peering into the vastness,
Peering into the calm of the Pacific;
Young man prostrate nigh,
Only to meet secrecy, only to greet the puppeteer on world tour:
Seamless tediousness, unending relentlessness.
Likeness of the rook of chess.
Not arrogant, not shamelessness;
Arm weakened by indifference,
Figure shocked by duplicity, until the last prisoner walked free.
Speeding, carrying a flame of charity;
Distance! Far!
Moving slowly yet inexorably across treacherous calm,
Against imperialistic intent, “Mercy!”, at the word, “proceed!”
Worn, leathery red shoe left on a New York yard.
Fish washed, fish roasted, fish cared for.
Refreshing air of power!
Embodiment of ethics.
Refreshed with invigoration, with legitimacy, with sacred purpose.
Refreshed with life alongside the vague.
Back-to-back with unwieldy apathy,
Against an uncharted future of shamelessness, of arrogance,
Subservient to good will, sworn to freedom of the seas.

wave after wave
salt on cabin frames

A 16-inch salvo from the USS Missouri at Chong Jin, Korea
October 21, 1950
U.S. Navy, NARA FILE #: 080-G-421049