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8:00 AM – A Time for Unity

I’ve had the recent privilege to work with the men and women from the Newport News Ship Building Company (NNS) on the USS Gerald Ford (CVN78) aircraft carrier.

The challenges on the Ford have been well documented in the media and tensions between NNS and the Navy are real. However, at 8:00 AM every morning, the tension and anger comes to a complete stop!

Regardless whether your Navy, NSS personnel or a contractor (like me), when the Star-Spangled Banner plays over the ship’s loudspeakers, everyone stops in their tracks. In the middle of the stairwell, walking along the pier or performing work on the ship….everyone stops. And there is silence. Most turn toward the flag that is being raised on the ship deck above.

There is a real sense of unity and pride when you experience this. It’s hard to describe, but for 90 seconds, everyone is on the same team and on the same page. Your anger, your agenda, your troubles, are all put on pause. It’s quite surreal.

At the risk of exposing my age, I remember my days in elementary school when we all stood together in the morning and said the Pledge of Allegiance, with our hands on our hearts, no hats on our heads, facing the American flag. Everyone knew the words to God Bless America and America the Beautiful. Today in the 21st century it feels like “motherhood and apple pie”. Our culture is very different now. But this little slice of respect, pause and unity very much alive at every US military installation.

I can’t help but wonder how much more productive all of us could be today, if we could just find a way to make it 8:00 AM for 24 hours each day!


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