In a bucolic setting at the War Museum in Newport News, the Fourth Degree, Knights of Columbus, held their annual memorial service, in tribute to the gallant men that went down to the sea, in the submarine Scorpion, SSN 589.
The sun beamed down warmly, making those in attendance retreat to the shade of the trees. The podium played host to the proud speakers. The welcome to all, by the Faithful Navigator, Art Nolan, signaled the posting of the colors, by the K of C. Color Corps, under the direction of Sir Knight Carroll Kelley.
MSG Wyonne Sitgraves, USAF, sang the national anthem, as she emotionally portrayed the Star Spangled Banner.
All the guests participated in the pledge of allegiance led by LTC. Thomas J. Degnon, US Army, and Tommy Degnon,
Cub Scout Pack 259.
Stepping to the podium Fr. Joseph Majewski prayed the invocation.
Administrator of the Virginia War Museum, John Quarstein, chronicled the history of submarines for us, and adding to that history was Force Master Chief, Donald R. Kultti, MMCM (SS), of the Atlantic Fleet Submarine Force.
And the central theme of their history is "when ever a boat, sets sail, there is always a degree of eminent danger that these warriors accept." The solemnity of that history settled into everyone's mind.
The reading of the crew names accompanied by the tolling of the ship's bell, by Ron Gorman and Jim Healy, made for a very solemn moment, as all present stood at attention in honor of these gallant souls. Each name was revered, as the ship bell intoned that these souls repose in peace, at the bottom of the sea.
Taps as always when played brings tears to the eyes of women readily, and to men they cry in the center of their souls. This version was played for us by Tony Merendino, as he chose a double playing of taps, in counterpoint. It was beautiful, and soulful.
One of the high points of the ceremony was the singing and guitar playing of a poem set to music by a former 30-year submariner, Tom Ponko. The most poignant line from this poem, which was sung, is "10,000 feet down, the men go to the arms of the Lord." On that note the minds and souls of the guests were imbued with a patriotic fervor and love for this great country.
This day is always a solemn one for anyone that served or had a loved one that played a part in the drama of terror that pervaded all of man's inhumanity of man.