Over the years and throughout our lives, we all have heard the New Year ushered in with “Auld Lang Syne”. Maybe we were with our closest family members in our hometowns, or maybe we were far away in a foreign land with strangers, but we always heard the song associated with the New Year holiday. As a child, I remember seeing Guy Lombardo’s band playing it on (black & white, of course) TV.
The older we get, the more we attach significance to things like “Auld Lang Syne”, and the more we recall where we were and whom we were with at the time we heard it. The song is, as most may already know, a Scottish standard that virtually every culture has adopted as the “theme song” of New Year’s Eve.
The words of Scottish poet Robert Burns, in traditional Scottish dialect, ask :
“Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days of auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld Lang syne,
We'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!”
Burns here is (in my interpretation) saying: “Should we forget our old friends, and never think of them again? For old time’s sake, let’s toast our old friends, and toast the days of old”.
The same question applies to those of us who have served over the decades and generations on our dear ”departed” USS Oklahoma City. Should we just forget about our old friends (shipmates), and the old days? Should we just let go of the memories and move forward with our lives?
My response is, ‘Of course not; how can we?’ How can we possibly forget the old times, and the dear friends we made over those years gone by? When we served on board our “Queen of the Fleet”, we had friends and memories that shared and shaped our lives, and that will live forever in our hearts and minds. Verse two of Burns’ song says:
“And there's a hand my trusty fiere,
And gie's a hand o thine
And we'll tak a right guid-willie waught,
For auld lang syne !”
Burns here (again, my interpretation) says: “And here’s my hand, my trusting friend, and you give me yours; we’ll have a toast for good friendship, and for the good old times.”
How else can you say it? “Let’s shake hands, let’s toast our friendship and our memories”. We can never say enough about the friendships we made and the memories we shared. The response we’ve seen this past year on the website, for example, is phenomenal. Less than two years ago, I was number ‘15’ or so to register, and today we’re over 640! We are not forgetting our shipmates, and we are not forgetting the ‘old days’, and we are all better off for it.
In 2001, let’s continue to share our memories and renew our friendships, and let’s keep the spirit of “Auld Lang Syne” alive in our hearts and minds.
Happy New Year to all my shipmates, of all generations.