Sailor, Rest Your Oar

Today is Memorial Day, so I wanted to post something in honor of my dad, a submariner in the United States Navy.

This poem was included in his funeral service:

Sailor, rest your oar

When your final dive is made, and your battery’s running low,
You’ll know there lies a boat for you many fathoms here below,
With your annunciators jammed on full and your depth gauge needles bent,
Your accumulator’s dry of oil and your air banks all are spent,
It’s then you get to wonderin’, “is my life’s boat rigged for dive?”
Your guessing drill commences, “am i dead or still alive?”
You pace the flooded decks with scorn and curse the flaws of man.
Into realms of Rex you’ve stepped, and here you’ll make your stand.
To live your life, as sailors must, at the bottom of the sea.
There’s one you’ll have to reckon – that one, my friend, is thee.
Will your conscience do you justice when the final muster’s in?
Did you lead the kind of life you should in every port you’ve been?
The answers to these questions and many, many more,
Are locked in the hearts of sailor men from Cannes to Singapore.
So, when your day for mast rolls ’round the choice is up to you,
Sailor chart your course of life right now; chart it straight and true.
Now’s the time to flood your tanks and trim up ‘fore and aft.
It’s a trifle late when the klaxon sounds to square away your craft.
Your final billet lies below, on “old ocean’s” floor.
So, be ready when that last word’s passed: Sailor, rest your oar.

My dad wasn’t on the Thresher, but we knew some of the men who were. I also knew some of their kids. I thought it fitting that I should include this photo (taken at a Submarine Memorial Service in Long Beach) here. The Thresher was lost at sea during diving trials on April 10, 1963. All 129 men onboard died.

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2 responses to “Sailor, Rest Your Oar

  1. What a beautiful poem and a great memoriam to your Father. Big hugs – Al xxx

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