Heroes come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Gender doesn’t matter, either, nor does nationality, language, ethnicity or religion. A hero is a hero…even when they don’t wear fatigues.
At the Airborne and Special Forces Museum in Fayetteville, NC, most of the museum is devoted to the brave men and women who have faithfully and heroically defended our country. Outside there are several sculptures of some of the more famous ones, but off to one side is the sculpture in today’s photo. It is a sculpture dedicated to the faithful canine heroes of the armed forces that, like so many of their human fellow-soldiers, have paid the ultimate price.
I recently read a National Geographic magazine issue that was about dogs in the military. I highly recommend it. They, too, deserve credit and honor!
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1863, the C.S.S. Hunley, the world’s first successful combat submarine, sank during a test run, killing its inventor and seven crew members.
Horace Lawson Hunley developed the 40-foot submarine from a cylinder boiler. It was operated by a crew of eight—one person steered while the other seven turned a crank that drove the ship’s propeller. The Hunley could dive, but it required calm seas for safe operations. It was tested successfully in Alabama’s Mobile Bay in the summer of 1863, and Confederate commander General Pierre G.T. Beauregard recognized that the vessel might be useful to ram Union ships and break the blockade of Charleston Harbor. The Hunley was placed on a rail car and shipped to South Carolina.
The submarine experienced problems upon its arrival. During a test run, a crew member became tangled in part of the craft’s machinery and the craft dove with its hatch open; only two men survived the accident. The ship was raised and repaired, but it was difficult to find another crew that was willing to assume the risk of operating the submarine. Its inventor and namesake stepped forward to restore confidence in his creation. On October 15, he took the submarine into Charleston Harbor for another test. In front of a crowd of spectators, the Hunley slipped below the surface and did not reappear. Horace Hunley and his entire crew perished.
Another willing crew was assembled and the Hunley went back into the water. On February 17, 1864, the ship headed out of Charleston Harbor and approached the U.S.S. Housatanic. The Hunley stuck a torpedo into the Yankee ship and then backed away before the explosion. The Housatanic sank in shallow water, and the Hunley became the first submarine to sink a ship in battle. However, its first successful mission was also its last—the Hunley sank before it returned to Charleston, taking yet another crew down with it. The vessel was raised in 2000, and is now on exhibit in Charleston.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Zorba, an English mastiff, is the biggest dog ever recorded. He weighed 343 pounds and measured 8′ 3″ from his nose to his tail.