Right as the COVID-19 story was just starting to break on the east coast, I had plans to attend a bicycle trade show, CABDA East, in New Jersey on March 11th and 12th. I figured it was a good opportunity to touch base with some of my vendors and see what might be happening in the industry as a whole, since the big Interbike show had ceased a few years back.
I also thought this might be a good opportunity to check out a memorial that I'd wanted to see for a number of years - a memorial to the USS Enterprise, CV-6, the famous aircraft carrier that served in WWII. Aside from the historical significance of the ship, there's a personal connection as well. At the end of the war, the Enterprise was pressed into service for Operation Magic Carpet, where various warships were used to carry servicemen home from various theaters of war. My father, who served as part of the ground forces of the 8th Air Force in the UK and Ukraine, caught his ride home on the "Big E."
|US Navy photo of bunks in hangar deck of USS Enterprise, just as my dad had described.|
|River Vale, NJ|
|River Vale, NJ|
|River Vale Library, NJ|
While my plans to go to the trade show fell apart due to the COVID-19 outbreak, I still managed to carve out a few hours to drive up to River Vale to check out the park and library. I have to admit, as simple as it was, I found it very moving. I guess just the thought of all the men that served, all the conflict the ship saw... and the thought of my dad on that massive hangar deck, with thousands of other GIs, finally heading home after the war. Standing there and running my fingers along those letters on the stern plate really made a strong impression on me, and I'm so glad I finally got the chance to see it. I only wish the whole ship had been preserved.
|Stern plate of USS Enterprise, River Vale Memorial Park, NJ|
The USS Enterprise CV-6 Foundation: http://www.cv6.org/site/association.htm
About the library display: USS Enterprise (CV-6) Collection
About the Memorial Park: The Enterprise Stern Plate: From Scrapyard to Small Town America