Now is the time to start planning Lincoln arrival

The national fascination with election returns hasn’t erased an aching concern. America keeps thinking about its military service people and the terrorism that claimed 17 lives on the USS Cole.

With the unrest in the Middle East, the coming months should be a time of pulling together for the whole nation. There is some satisfaction in the news reports Friday that FBI and Yemeni investigators are making much faster progress on the Cole bombing than ever expected. But, as we watch the situation, we will all be better off if we can turn the national concern into local action.

Everett is already devoting attention to supporting local Navy plans for the return of the USS Lincoln from the Persian Gulf. The Lincoln is about halfway through its scheduled six-month deployment, which is currently set to end with a Feb. 17 homecoming.

Given the tensions and the responsibilities carried by the ship’s entire crew, the sailors will deserve a huge welcome home. Elsewhere on today’s page, Lincoln Capt. Douglas Dupouy provides a good update on the ship’s activities. Clearly, the heightened security affects the Everett-based USS Lincoln as much as any part of America’s military. The Lincoln’s crew has had only four days port leave so far, and it’s uncertain when they might get another break in the tense region.

The Lincoln’s sailors can be counted on to perform admirably in the weeks and months ahead. There was a small indication of their state of mind late last month as the crew of the damaged Cole made quick arrangements to return home. Lincoln sailors were asked if they could pull together 250 sea bags to help their service mates on the Cole pack for their return. The travel bags started piling up even before the official shipboard announcement could be broadcast. Within less than 45 minutes, some 340 bags had been collected, many marked with spontaneous messages of encouragement and support.

There’s lots of reassurance for the nation in knowing that they have people like that in the service. They deserve all the support we can give them.

Lorna Papke-Dupouy, the captain’s wife, will discuss the current homecoming plans in a public meeting at 11 a.m. Nov. 29 in the Elwin Anderson room of the Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore. She says that she has been overwhelmed by the city’s positive response to the initial inquiries about supporting the homecoming. There will be a surprising variety of ways for people to support the homecoming effort. Papke-Dupouy notes, for instance, that a sewing circle could be helpful in completing some of the decorations planned for the celebration.

By mid-February, Lincoln family members will be very focused on the return. In fact, Papke-Dupouy says, organizers have included plans for music and dancing at a homecoming-eve gathering of family members. The hope is that younger family members will burn off some energy dancing. That way, she suggests wryly, there "might be a microscopic chance of the children getting some sleep" before the ship’s arrival the next day.

Time has a way of sneaking up on us, young or old. It’s important that the planning move ahead quickly in order to meet the hopes of the homecoming organizers to give the crew members the kind of welcome home they deserve.

For more information, you can visit the USS Lincoln’s home page



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