June 29, 2007
Memory and National Identity
When a country can't remember its own history — or doesn't want to — it risks losing more than dusty museum relics. It could lose its soul. That's what happens when the U.S. constitution is routinely flouted, or when, in extremis, a U.S. warship is sacrificed upon the alter of political expediency. If the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty, on June 8, 1967, had succeeded in sinking her with all hands then this history, indeed, would have been permanently lost. But by some miracle the Liberty survived, as did many crew. Despite government efforts to suppress the facts of what really happened the story refuses to go away. Forty years later, to understand things better, I talk with Captain Ward Boston (USN, Ret.), then chief counsel to the Navy's Board of Inquiry which white-washed the affair. For decades Captain Boston kept his silence, following orders, but is now outspoken in his judgment: the attack was deliberate, and there was an official cover-up. I find Captain Boston eminently credible, I admire his willingness to correct the record, and I am very grateful to him for talking with me. Plus which this is fascinating general oral history of the times. Total of an hour and twenty minutes.