Saturday, July 4, 2009

We Build, We Fight - Can Do

Memorial Day may be the time to remember our military brothers and sisters, but the 4th of July is also a time to remember those who continue to fight in order to maintain the freedoms our forefathers set in place. And, since this is an engineering related blog, there is no better group to remember on this national holiday than the Fighting Seabees.

Conveniently enough, Navy engineers have been receiving some much needed attention through a year-long exhibit at the Naval Heritage Center in Washington, D.C. running from April 2009 through March 2010.

A Little History:

Lead by the Civil Engineer Corps, the Seabees made a name for themselves during World War II while supporting the Allied war effort. There name is derived from the acronym for Construction Battalion, or CB. Thus, they were the CBs and then got a nice logo with the "Sea" in it since they were part of the Navy.

Their official motto is "Construimus, Batuimus," which translates into We Build, We Fight. Many nonofficial mottos have appeared throughout history, but the most prominant is the CAN DO attitude of the Seabees.

After the Korean War, the Seabees turned from being a purely military construction outfit to one of goodwill ambassadors to help the world in crisis. The Seabees rebuilt after earthquakes or other natural disasters. They improved roads, bridges, and even orphanages in remote parts of the world. They built things no commercial organization would do.

Today, the Seabees are active in reconstructing wartorn areas of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Trusty Bulldozer:

Many of us remember the scene with John Wayne and the bulldozer. But, the bulldozer is a trusty companion of many CBs. One of my favorite Seabee stories is when a battalion used their bulldozers to push a fleet of landing craft, that were being pounded by surf, into deeper calmer water.

The Front Lines:

And the Seabees aren't just a group of construction workers who come in to repair war torn areas. There are many missions in our history where they Seabees were right up front with the invading force. So not only do they build roads, dig causeways, and supply water, but they also pick up their guns and fight, sometimes die, alongside every other warfighter. These are truly dedicated and amazing individuals.

So on this 4th of July holiday, with all the BBQs and fireworks, take a moment to remember those who have fought and are fighting for our freedom. Also remember that it takes more than guns to win a cause, so do your part. I did mine tonight when standing up for the Star Spangled Banner before the fireworks started. My son asked me why we were standing. I made it a point, when explaining it to him, to speak loud enough for those still resting on their blankets to get up and honor the flag. Is it really that hard to do?

For more information on the Seabees, just do a Google search. You can also search Amazon for some great books about the Seabees.