Navy Day – by Harry Harrison
_The Army had a new theme song: “Anything
you can do, we can do better!” And they meant
_anything_, including up-to-date hornpipes!_
By Harry Harrison
General Wingrove looked at the rows of faces without seeing them. His
Vision went beyond the Congress of the United States, past the balmy
June day to another day that was coming. A day when the Army would have
Its destined place of authority.
He drew a deep breath and delivered what was perhaps the shortest speech
Ever heard in the hallowed halls of Congress:
“The General Staff of the U. S. Army requests Congress to abolish the
Archaic branch of the armed forces known as the U. S. Navy.”
The aging Senator from Georgia checked his hearing aid to see if it was
In operating order, while the press box emptied itself in one concerted
Rush and a clatter of running feet that died off in the direction of the
Telephone room. A buzz of excited comment ran through the giant chamber.
One by one the heads turned to face the Naval section where rows of blue
Figures stirred and buzzed like smoked-out bees. The knot of men around
A paunchy figure heavy with gold braid broke up and Admiral Fitzjames
Climbed slowly to his feet.
Lesser men have quailed before that piercing stare, but General Wingrove
Was never the lesser man. The admiral tossed his head with disgust,
Every line of his body denoting outraged dignity. He turned to his
Audience, a small pulse beating in his forehead.
“I cannot comprehend the general’s attitude, nor can I understand why he
Has attacked the Navy in this unwarranted fashion. The Navy has existed
And will always exist as the first barrier of American defense. I ask
You, gentlemen, to ignore this request as you would ignore the
Statements of any
person… er, slightly demented. I should like to
Offer a recommendation that the general’s sanity be investigated, and an
Inquiry be made as to the mental health of anyone else connected with
This preposterous proposal!”
The general smiled calmly. “I understand, Admiral, and really don’t
Blame you for being slightly annoyed. But, please let us not bring this
Issue of national importance down to a shallow personal level. The Army
Has facts to back up this request – facts that shall be demonstrated
Turning his back on the raging admiral, General Wingrove included all
The assembled solons in one sweeping gesture.
“Reserve your judgment until that time, gentlemen, make no hasty
Judgments until you have seen the force of argument with which we back
Up our request. It is the end of an era. In the morning the Navy joins
Its fellow fossils, the dodo and the brontosaurus.”
The admiral’s blood pressure mounted to a new record and the gentle thud
Of his unconscious body striking the floor was the only sound to break
The shocked silence of the giant hall.
* * * * *
The early morning sun warmed the white marble of the Jefferson Memorial
And glinted from the soldiers’ helmets and the roofs of the packed cars
That crowded forward in a slow-moving stream. All the gentlemen of
Congress were there, the passage of their cars cleared by the screaming
Sirens of motorcycle policemen. Around and under the wheels of the
Official cars pressed a solid wave of government workers and common
Citizens of the capital city. The trucks of the radio and television
Services pressed close, microphones and cameras extended.
The stage was set for a great day. Neat rows of olive drab vehicles