I love learning, I do it all the time whether listening to podcasts, or reading, or watching shows and stories on television, basically any way I can. But my favorite way is museums, combining travel with education by visual, audio and sometimes tactile experiences; I cannot think of a better method of expanding my mind.
The National Navy Underwater Demolition Teams and SEAL Museum is great place to undergo an infusion of knowledge. Located right along the beach (how could it not be) in Fort Pierce Florida along Highway A1A, easy to get to with plenty of free parking, with both indoor and outdoor displays.
I have loved history in all its incarnations and some of the best preserved and documented history in the US is the history of warfare and war fighting. I have toured countless Civil War battlefields and due to the where I grew up, I had access to a lot of history from the French and Indian and War era.
The UDT-SEAL Museum covers the unique and very specialized skills, training, equipment, and methods of the men who do incredibly dangerous and heroic things as they are sent around the world.
Two things in the museum I had a personal connection to my own history. Both items had been in Mogadishu, Somalia when I was there 1993.
A map of was just one of hundreds that were marked up, passed around with notations showing important landmarks and routes. Maps had been my thing as an Intelligence Analyst in the Army. I issued them, studied them, gave briefings on them, and organized them in my very own map room which was a former shower room at the University of Mogadishu.
The second item was a full-sized Blackhawk inside the museum, it was not a model or mockup but one that had been there. I could have ridden on this very one or at the very least had grit and sand thrown on me from its downwash. So, I was feeling a few emotions I was not expecting at this museum dedicated to these special forces warriors.
Not only do they go where others never will, they go in ways that would cause most stop in their tracks and say, ‘no way’. Fast roping from helicopters, parachuting out of aircraft or leaving a submerged submarine in the dead of night just to get to a place where people have guns and bad intentions, that is far more than most people are willing to do and far more than almost everyone is able to do.
This museum with its displays of specialized weapons, (make sure you see the underwater handgun), its dioramas and exhibits of successful missions and the vehicles various the SEALS used. The outdoor displays are mostly the boats and submersibles that the SEALS and their predecessors the UDTs used to go in harms way. A sizable portion of the grounds is also take up by an obstacle course with accompanying signs saying, ‘use at your own risk’. You might want to find a bench overlooking the course and see the names of one of the large donors who helped make its construction, I guarantee it will cause most people to have an emotional reaction of some sort.
But as I took all this in, I realized I have changed over the years. Matured hopefully. My view of the world has, dare I say evolved. While I respect these men who do these incredible things risking their lives, doing their duty in heroic acts, going in harm’s way when asked. I also think of the bigger picture, the death and destruction that they are directed to do by politicians for questionable reasons.
I have yet to understand why we need to send people around the world to kill people who have no way of reaching our shores let alone do us any harm if they could they get here. While SEALS have honor, character, and tremendous bravery; the politicians who send them have nothing but greed, arrogance, and selfish interests that they use to further their own ends.
We, the United States of America, interfere in so many places that we do not understand, we do not speak the language, or know the history or the culture. Places we impose our will, both subtlety and not so subtle ways, with no regard for either short- or long-term consequences. While I toured this place that displays an incredible projection of American power and might, I thought the great works by multiple people that build up this world, making it better, and I was struck by how much energy goes into death and destruction that could be better directed.
How much good, for nature and our fellow man could be accomplished with the energy that we have invested in sending these courageous men far away on dangerous missions. If instead of towards causing casualties and destruction these highly intelligent resourceful men had been asked to dedicate themselves to building, construction or preserving life.
I do not think I will go to anymore museums dedicated solely to warfare; it is just not for me any longer. I will concentrate on learning about nature, art, and inventions. I will learn about the healers, creators, and the innovators who dedicate themselves to making the world a better place.
The Navy SEAL and UDT Museum is a fitting example of a museum, clear, interactive, designed well for learning and maintaining the incredible history of the brave and honorable frogmen.
But for me, while I did what is asked of me when I served in the U.S. Army, I have adopted the words of Chief Joseph “I believe much trouble and blood would be saved if we opened our hearts more.”
Categories: Travel and Diversions