Constellation FateI am one of those who think the...


April 28, 1995

Constellation Fate

I am one of those who think the Constellation should be put in dry dock to help preserve her, as has been done with H.M.S. Victory in Portsmouth, England.

As I said in my April 4 Opinion * Commentary piece, I believe a dry dock could be constructed in Harborplace at Constellation's present location and designed so that at first glance it might seem the old warship is still afloat.

Louis F. Linden, executive director of the Constellation Foundation, wrote in his April 14 Opinion * Commentary piece that "[H.M.S.] Victory is not in dry dock by choice but by necessity. She suffered bomb damage during the blitz in World War II and was put in dry dock to keep her from sinking."

Although Victory was damaged by a German bomb in 1940, by the time of that attack she'd been in dry dock for 18 years.

In January 1922, Nelson's flagship was placed in dry dock after the Society for Nautical Research determined she could no longer remain safely afloat.

Government help and a public appeal helped restore the ship to its present magnificence so that the British claim Victory to be "the world's most outstanding example of ship restoration."

Mr. Linden is correct that government funds will be needed to keep Victory in good shape in perpetuity -- but isn't his foundation similarly asking for government funds to help restore Constellation?

The costs of maintaining a wooden ship are always high, whether the ship is in water or out. Repair and restoration on Victory are constant, as they have been on Constellation since the sloop of war was towed to Baltimore in 1955. Between 1970 and 1978, the stern of Victory was largely rebuilt from keel to poop deck, and new techniques are constantly being tried.

Though Mr. Linden is in error in saying a German bomb led to the dry docking of Victory, there was a maritime accident that was a factor in leading to the dry dock solution.

In 1903, Victory was accidentally rammed by H.M.S. Neptune, damaging the ship's side at the spot near where Nelson was killed.

Such a mishap could happen to Constellation, given the high intensity of waterborne traffic in Baltimore's harbor area. This is yet another good reason why the sloop of war should be intelligently protected.

Christopher T. George


Our Problem

I predicted that the worst shock was still to come in the Oklahoma City tragedy. What if the bombers turned out to be Americans?

What if they weren't the mustachioed "Middle Eastern" villains we were so quick to fantasize, but simply American gun nuts, the kind with the hate-slogans on their bumpers ("Lee Harvey Oswald, Where Are You Now?," etc.), the kind who actually claim constitutional right to beat and stomp and kill anyone in their way, women and children first, violent and uncontrolled men (always men) who reject any restraint whatsoever in their behavior?

I think we are in denial about what is happening to us in America.

Right here in Baltimore, when two Guilford grandparents were murdered, we jumped to the conclusion that it must have been a black intruder. But the killer was their own grandson.

I think it is time for a hard look at where this new religion of total

self-indulgence is taking us, this anti-social rush to the lawsuit, to the fistfight, to the shotgun murder on the neighbor's own doorstep.

We have lost our sense of community. We need to learn how to get along with people who aren't just like ourselves.

Michael Kernan


Board Trips

I would like to provide additional information about the value of national conferences for public officials, in response to your news story of April 16.

As your story indicated, board of education members from Maryland recently attended the annual National School Boards Association conference in San Francisco. Similar opportunities are provided for county and municipal officials by their national organizations.

As part of its new board member orientation, the Maryland Association of Boards of Education urges board members to avail themselves of training opportunities which will assist them with the challenging responsibility they have assumed.

Boards of education members, who have tremendous demands on their time, are to be commended when they take advantage of this extensive in-service opportunity.

The recent conference provided exposure to education ideas as diverse as those expressed by U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley and former Secretary William Bennett.

Board members were able to select from over 80 clinic sessions covering such issues as programs for students at risk, technology education, and special education student inclusion.

Two Maryland school systems and several board members show-cased successful Maryland programs at the conference. Additionally, school architecture and other goods and services were exhibited.

I regret that constraints of time and money limit the ability of all board members to further their knowledge on which to base the decisions they must make on behalf of Maryland students.

Susan R. Buswell


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