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When I was a child my grandfather would tell me about his experiences with the U.S. Marine Expeditionary Force in World War I. He would often choke up when he spoke of his friends who did not return.

My other grandfather worked at the port in Wilmington, NC during World War II and served as an air raid warden. For those who lived along the North Carolina coast during that time the war was not a far off event. Ships on fire after torpedo attacks by U-boats often lit the night sky. The next morning the burned bodies of seamen would wash up on the shore.

On Memorial Day we commemorate those who gave their lives to protect our freedom. Among the many locations with events to mark the day is the Battleship U.S.S. North Carolina in Wilmington. Here are some details from the press release:

As the State’s World War II Memorial to the 10,000 North Carolinians who died during the war, it is not only deemed as appropriate but a heritage to have a ceremony aboard the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA commemorating those who gave their lives so valiantly.

On Memorial Day, May 30, 2011, at 5:45 pm, people of all generations from across the State will gather together on the deck of the Battleship to pay their respects. The annual Memorial Day Ceremony has been observed for the last 46 years and this year, in the Ship’s 50th anniversary celebration of being moored in Wilmington, it is honored to have guest speakers, Governor Beverly Perdue, Governor of North Carolina, Senator Kay Hagan, United States Senator of North Carolina, Secretary Linda Carlisle, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources and key-note speaker, VADM Carol Pottenger, Deputy Chief of Staff for Capability and Development at NATO Headquarters.

In an emotional ceremony, preceding and concluding with military musical arrangements provided by the Second Marine Division Band, the Executive Director of the Battleship, Captain Terry A. Bragg and members of the USS NORTH CAROLINA Battleship Commission invite the public to this free event.

The Battleship also announces the UNC-TV airing of the new documentary, Battleship NORTH CAROLINA: The Showboat Legacy statewide on Sunday, May 29th at 6:30 pm. The experience will be told of the Ship from her service in World War II and how she came to her current berth off the Cape Fear River. The emotional journey is told by those whose lives she helped shape. Share in the stories of the original crew and current caretakers as they tell of their passion for one of the most decorated ships of WWII.

Hours of operation will change for summer season on Friday, May 27, 2011, to open at 8:00 am and close 8:00 pm. The Tuesday following Labor Day, hours will return to open at 8:00 am and close at 5:00 pm.

The Battleship NORTH CAROLINA is self-supported, not tax supported and relies primarily upon admissions to tour the Ship, sales in the Ship’s Store, and donations to the Friends of the Battleship. No funds for its administration and operation come from appropriations from governmental entities at the local, state or federal levels. Located at the junction of Highways 17/74/76/421 on the Cape Fear River. Visit for more information.

One Comment

  1. Gravatar for Tom Taylor

    Thank you, Pierce, for a very informative post - and a very moving one. I used to listen for hours to my grandfather talk about his experiences in Italy in WWII. Last year my grandmother passed on to me his war mementos: his discharge papers, the photos of his buddies, his "war camera," his dog tag.

    I hope many people can turn out for the ceremony Monday, and tune in to the documentary Sunday night on UNC-TV.

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