The USS Iowa joined in battles from World War II to Korea to the Persian Gulf. It carried President Franklin Roosevelt home from the Teheran conference of allied leaders, and four decades later, suffered one of the nation’s most deadly military accidents.
Veterans groups and history buffs had hoped that tourists in San Francisco could walk the same teak decks where sailors dodged Japanese machine-gun fire and fired 16-inch guns that helped win battles across the South Pacific.
Instead, it appears that the retired battleship is headed about 80 miles inland, to Stockton, a gritty agricultural port town on the San Joaquin River and home of California’s annual asparagus festival.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a former San Francisco mayor, helped secure $3 million to tow the Iowa from Rhode Island to the Bay Area in 2001 in hopes of making touristy Fisherman’s Wharf its new home.
But city supervisors voted 8-3 last month to oppose taking in the ship, citing local opposition to the Iraq war and the military’s stance on gays, among other things.
“If I was going to commit any kind of money in recognition of war, then it should be toward peace, given what our war is in Iraq right now,” Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi said.
Feinstein called it a “very petty decision.”
San Francisco’s rejection of such a storied battleship is a slap in the nation’s face, said Douglass Wilhoit, head of Stockton’s Chamber of Commerce.
“We’re lucky our men and women have sacrificed their lives … to protect our freedom,” Wilhoit said. “Wherever you stand on the war in Iraq … you shouldn’t make a decision based on philosophy.”
Keep in mind that this ship never saw battle in the current War On Terror.
But it did help defeat a militaristic Japanese in WWII, and played a role in preventing all of Korea from falling to the Communists in the early 1950s.
(Those were both good things, right? Can we all agree on that, at least?)
This ship, obviously, has great historical value. And it could attract tens of thousands of tourists, and bring much needed money to San Francisco’s businesses, as well as boost local tax revenue.
This warship has absolutely nothing to do with our current, divisive war in Iraq.
Yet the Leftists in San Fran’s local government don’t want it anywhere near their city, apparently out of a short-sighted, anti-military fervor.
They are willing to throw away a crucial source of public revenue, and harm local businesses, simply to diss the past military victories of their own country.