ENDEAVOR’S PASS ABOVE THE QUEEN MARY WAS A MOMENT OF POETRYBy Greater Long Beach
[NOTE: Scrolling through the comments posted by subscribers to an online group dedicated to the endless discussion of the Queen Mary is to encounter information, observations, passionate opinions and full-on arguments that are guaranteed to enlighten and entertain. But on this day, when the Space Shuttle Endeavor's long road home to retirement intersected the airspace above the Queen Mary, the perspective of one man truly inspired. We share it with you.]
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I watched the space shuttle Endeavour fly over from the Events Park just off Queen Mary’s bow. Long Beach’s shorelines were crowded with many tens of thousands of people for the event, and the Queen in particular had a solid mass of spectators on her upper decks. There was enormous poetry in the event, with another historic vehicle and feat of engineering being retired, and there were many moist eyes amid the cheering as Endeavour flew almost directly over the Queen.
I want to express thanks to the ship’s staff for two thoughtful touches: first, when Endeavour (running late) was finally first sighted, the Queen’s horn was very briefly sounded as a warning—allowing many to ready their eyes and cameras. Second, as the shuttle flew overhead, the Mary saluted her properly with a long blast that drew cheers from around the entire harbor. It certainly seems that this dignified and historic event was properly appreciated by the ship’s staff; photos were quickly put up on the website, for example.
I might add that we all watched the shuttle bank to the south after the flyover, to pay her respects to USS Iowa. Although of different eras, both shuttle and Queen command respect, and have a lot to teach us, and I was very pleased that while great affection was being shared among the large crowd I stood with for Endeavour, lots of people also commented on how magnificent the Queen is. Bearing herself in this occasion with dignity, she stood all the taller, and I hope the large crowds aboard her came away with a positive impression. I don’t doubt that they provided at least a short-term windfall to her merchants and operators.
This is a model for future event opportunities that will enhance the Queen Mary’s standing in her community. It was also a beautiful and moving moment.