I had the privilege of visiting the USS Saratoga Museum in North Kingstown, RI last Tuesday night. I have not been since there was a shop in the Rhode Island Mall. I met some wonderful people dedicated to the mission of bringing “Big John” to Rhode Island. Within minutes I felt like I had known everyone for years. A loving community of members and volunteers with a passion for the mission ahead.
In addition to the great people I met, I was impressed with the collection they have accumulated so far. A forty-foot model of the USS Nevada from Paramount Pictures. Various vehicles and aircraft including one F9F Panther similar to the one Ted Williams flew. Lt. John W. Finn’s 1938 Ford Coupe direct from Pearl Harbor that he used to drive to his plane during the attack. (He was one of a few aviators able to take off and defend Pearl Harbor. Flight suits, pictures, models of airplanes and a wealth of history.) Models and artifacts galore.
Originally, the idea was to bring the USS Saratoga (CV-60) to Narragansett Bay as a floating museum. Unfortunately, “Sara” had deteriorated to a point where she is not economically viable nor safe to use. “When one door closes, another one opens,” says the USS Saratoga Museum Foundation website. The US Navy has decided to scrap Sara but has the USS John F. Kennedy sitting in Philadelphia.
“The USS John F. Kennedy Park will be a multi-function complex serving as a family attraction and entertainment center, naval and aviation museum, job training and education resource, special event venue and more, all sited on a very exciting and historic aircraft carrier.”
Personally, I have been to the USS Intrepid Museum in NYC and the USS Midway Museum in San Diego in addition to the Air and Space Museums in the DC area. I am always awestruck at the engineering and history sitting there in front of me. I love history and especially military history. I have never served in the military but my family has a long record of service. I was raised to have the utmost respect for every man and woman who served, both overseas and here at home.
Imagine going to a museum this close to home. One that has ties to the Ocean State and bears the name of such a public figure. The possibilities are endless. Can you see high school proms, political galas, trade shows, concerts and more hosted in the hanger bay (about the size of the fair ground at Fenway Park). How about classes held on the flight deck discussing the forces used to launch an aircraft or maybe the discussion of how something so large is even able to remain balanced in the water without sinking. Maybe a night’s stay with your son/daughter or your parents on board.
Imagine the economic impact to the state of Rhode Island. The attraction is projected to draw as many as 350,000 visitors annually and provide at least 80 direct jobs (on-site) and 500 total jobs at nearby businesses. A technically educated workforce trained at the facility through on board classes and training programs could attract businesses in need of skilled labor.
What can I do to help?
So glad you asked. As with any major project of this scale volunteers are needed for a variety of tasks. There are restoration projects or maybe volunteer one day to run the store. Any little bit helps. With that in mind…any little bit of money or donations of artifacts and equipment would help the efforts as well. Communicate with the men and women who volunteer. Visit the shop/museum in North Kingstown on Post Road near route 403.
Please take some time to follow the link below to find out more.