I read a name from the past in today’s news: Medgar Evers.

The name takes me back to the days of when as a child we visited our aunt who lived in the deep south, and I was astonished that there “colored only” restaurants and water fountains.

Evers was one of the heroes who fought for the ending of discrimination, and was killed for doing so.

Younger folks probably don’t remember or appreciate such things, which is why the clueless Republicans get away with charges that cries of racism tend to be overblown.

Most younger folks only know about those days from the movie “Mississippi Burning”; it says a lot about the film industry that that film is about the (white) FBI investigating the crime of killing three civil rights workers, two of whom were white.

Yet I learned something about Evers this week: He was a World War II Veteran who had served in France and is buried in Arlington cemetary.

And this week, a ship was named in his honor.

PHOTO: Myrlie Evers-Wilson, the widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers and ship sponsor of Military Sealift Command dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS Medgar Evers, breaks the traditional bottle of champagne against the ship’s hull during the ship’s christening ceremony Nov. 12 at the General Dynamics NASSCO Shipyard in San Diego.

One can hear the complaints now: How dare they name a ship for a peacemaker.

Ah, but most people in the 1950’s and 1960’s belonged to a different era, where fighting for one’s country against dangerous and murderous dictatorships was considered a good thing.

And I am personally pleased that the ship they chose was part of the Military Sealift Command.

The command operates approximately 110 noncombatant, civilian-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners.

Yup. Civil service, not military.

These are supply ships, that float around in remote areas with all sorts of supplies so that the US Navy don’t have to go home to get restocked.

But that means that, when disaster strikes here in Asia, that these ships are nearby and available to bring food and supplied in times of emergency to places in remote Asian/Pacific areas, such as after the Japanese earthquake, the earthquake in Nias, Indonesia, or after the devastating typhoon a couple years ago in The Philippines.

This article about how the MSC ships supported the US Navy only hints at boring things like logistics. But from a practical side, the planes and ships can’t deliver things if they run out of supplies including food, water, spare parts, and fuel for the ships that actually do the work.

A fitting memorial for a brave man.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She blogs at Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.


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