Private Smith will not be coming home

December 2007

By Dodge Morgan

Two incongruously connected events: The recent $314 million lottery winner from Indiana will undoubtedly find his name is added to a number of yacht broker prospect lists. In stark contrast, we learn that Private Smith will not be coming home to his Rhodes 19.

The new millionaire’s euphoria and the soldier’s painful loss can barely be imagined by the rest of us, and taking the two events together in one simple sentence slaps the strings of emotion hard. We can at least explain the lottery win in terms of the odds, since the win must have taken some 400,000,000 one-dollar tickets to be sold. But not even the statistical calculations for the wages of war can justify the death of the soldier.

Unless we focus just on Smith’s Rhodes 19.

I propose that the lottery winner buy Private Smith’s Rhodes 19 from his survivors for a relatively reasonable $10 millon (everything is relative, right?). Then I would have the private’s heirs blow the $10 million on a fleet of 535 new Rhodes 19s. The new millionaire must sail Smith’s boat solo on a Maine coastal cruise because there will be a critical need for some lessons in patience and humility. And Smith’s legacy fleet of boats must then be donated to every member of congress, 435 to representatives and 100 to senators, who also must sail solo on a Maine coastal cruise – more lessons in patience and humility where needed most.

Imagine the wondrous confusion of images created by a few hundred politicians and one new millionaire sailing open boats along our coast. The millionaire will depart from Kennebunkport, and the political fleet will aim to finish there. Here are some visions that this bizarre set of circumstances can evoke:

The lottery winner, who is found to be absent of a sense of direction, sails south and west rather than north and east. He lands at the Isles of Shoals, which he buys for cash from a church and the State of New Hampshire. He settles there, opening a lollipop factory and writing a manual on the easy way to beat impossible odds.

Senators Snowe and Collins manage to visit every Maine coastal town of more than 50 persons. Representative Tom Allen finds Monhegan Island, stays there, and wins a solid voting block of birdwatchers and artists. Hillary manages to keep the wind at her back and stops nowhere. John McCain settles at Port Clyde, where he captivates the entire town with straight talk and humorous asides while learning that no one knew who he was when he arrived.

Obama blows his mainsail offshore and is rescued by the Coast Guard, an event that gives him major news coverage and multiple forums for inspirational speeches. Mike Huckabee spends his entire cruise tacking back and forth within 50 yards of the Eastport town dock. Sam Brownback cannot figure out how to raise his mainsail. Nancy Pelosi devotes her time to a loud-hailer, delivering orders no one can hear.

When the cruise is completed, the politicians’ fleet of boats are shipped to Iraq to be employed as noncompetitive weapons of compassion, each having a crew of one American soldier, one Iraq Sunni and one Shiite. Private Smith’s Rhodes 19 will be symbolically enshrined in the main lobby of the Pentagon.

Dodge Morgan sails out of Snow Island, Maine.