A Semi-Fictional Script

Oliver Wendell Holmes and the Old Ironsides

In 1830, young Oliver Holmes wrote a contradictive poem entitled ‘The Old Ironsides’. The poem was about a United States Navy battleship USS Constitution that was about to be dismantled. This fictional script adopts the setting similar to that of a television talkshow. Although the characters represented in the script are not completely accurate and some even blundered for comedy effects, the facts about Mr Holmes and USS Constitution are real.

Cast: Powell (host), Oliver Wendell Holmes, Secretary of the Navy (Admiral), Common people (Citizen).

Powell:
Good evening my fellow Americans. Welcome once again to the Powell Show. Tonight we’re having a very special guest. A brilliant, intellect gentleman who just graduated from the famous Harvard College with a medical degree and wrote a fantastic poem published in the Boston Daily Advertiser that became such controversy at the moment. Please welcome, the author of The Old Ironsides a young American writer, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes!

Holmes:
Good evening Powell, good evening America.

Powell:
Good evening Dr. Holmes, it’ s nice to have you here with us.

Holmes:
Its nice to be here. O, and please, you don’t have to use the “doctor”thing. I’m not really a doctor yet.

Powell:
Oh, Okay. All right then, Holmes. I guess we all know why we invited you here to our little studio. Your latest poem, the Old Ironsides has attracted a lot of people’s attention to the matter of destroying USS Constitution. You’ve gain support to preserve the old ship, but I reckon you also had a hard time from the Navy. Could you explain to us a little bit about this?

Holmes:
Well, since the beginning, I never really meant to actually save the ship or to prevent it from being destroyed. However, I prefer it to be preserved though. But, I like to write about minor faults of mankind. And I believe that by destroying the old battle ship is a mistake. It is true that a number of fellow citizens agreed with me, but as it is from the Navy as you mentioned it, they never contacted me about it yet. So, I don’t know how they react about my poem. I hope they’re not going to bomb my home or something.

Powell:
Oh, I’m sure they won’t Holmes. I’m sure they won’t. However to know for sure on how our Navy respond to the poem of yours, our producer also had invited the man who pretty much has the power to destroy or to preserve the ship. Who he is? We’ll be right back after the break.

-Break-

Powell:
Okay, we’re back. Now, ladies and gentlemen please welcome another special guest came a long way from the capital, the Secretary of the Navy.
Good evening Admiral. We really appreciate your presence here in the middle of your daily tasks.

Admiral:
It is an honored for me also to be here. Especially I believe that the matter we’re talking about is related to the image of the United States Navy.

Powell:
Well, actually it is. You see, Admiral, there is a concern about the plan to dispose the historic USS Constitution. Many people were surprised when the issue arose. And most of them were represented through Dr. Holmes’, excuse me, Holmes’ poem, The Old Ironsides. They want the ship to be restored instead of to be destroyed. How is your response to this matter?

Admiral:
Actually, I also have read the poem. In an esthetic manner, it was not bad at all. But, the content of it was very provocative and mislead the public at large.

Holmes:
It was not! And from the first time I’ve said, I never meant to provoke anyone. Those who agreed with me shared the same thoughts that we should respect our own history. We should appreciate and preserved them. You know better than I do that USS Constitution had served this country and the people in its great actions along with its great sailors.

Admiral:
I will not deny that. But, we must understand that when the Navy Yard Commanders took surveys on all our ships, USS Constitution needs a large amount of funding to repair it. We can use those big funds for other purposes that may be more useful to this country. Nevertheless, Dr. Holmes, the Board of Navy Commissioners has not yet decided to preserve or to dispose it.

Holmes:
But you! But you recommend the Board of Navy Commissioners to dispose it. You’re the one who came to the idea to get rid of the great battleship America ever had.

Admiral:
I will not respond to that accusing statement of yours, Doctor. There’s no evidence or whatsoever supporting your theory I presume?

Holmes:
Hmmph…… However, I see you don’t deny it either.

Powell:
Gentlemen, it looks like our discussions have become more interesting. Let’s try to hear the opinion of one of our audience, shall we?

Holmes & Admiral:
Of course.

Powell:
All right then. You Sir. Could you please come on to the stage?
Give a big hand to this gentleman, folks!

Powell:
What’s your name, Sir? Where do you come from?

Citizen:
——. I came from Boston.

Powell:
Have you read the Old Ironsides?

Citizen:
Yes I have. And I agreed 100% with Dr. Holmes, we must preserve it. It’s our history; it served many battlefields and won them for the sake of Americans!

Powell:
You think so do you? Well, Admiral it seems to be this citizen of United States shared the same idea Holmes have.

Admiral:
Even though, it means that we must sacrifice a large funds that we can use for better purpose for an old wreck of woods?

Holmes:
Excuse me, Sir! The old wreck of woods that you’re talking about happens to be a national ship! More than 1,500 trees from Maine to Georgia were used to build the ship. Even the copper fastenings were provided by Paul Revere! And most of all, it’s a symbol to America’s strength, courage, and liberty!!

Citizen:
That’s true Dr. Holmes!

Holmes:
Ehhm, Holmes please.

Citizen:
Sorry, Dr. Holmes, I mean, Holmes.

Holmes:
It’s Okay. Where was I?

Powell:
You were talking about the great USS Constitution.

Holmes:
Oh, yes. It also won many sea battles. It sunk at least 4 of British ships which were larger in size, and escaped from menaces. Bloods of our true warriors were in that great ship. It will be such a shame, truly a shame, if it will be destroyed by the hands of men that enjoyed its protection! It’s even better if it sank in the sea where it once serves this great nation of America. And what is a great nation? It’s the one who values its own history.

Admiral:
What do you know about history young man? I’ve served this country longer than you have lived. You don’t know what a war is like, you spoiled Harvard boy!

Holmes:
I beg your pardon, Sir! I may not a warrior of war as you recognize yourself as. But I do know that a nation’s history is much more important than money!

Admiral:
What if we could use the money for our own welfare?

Holmes:
Whose welfare? Who do you refer to “our”? Is it the people of America, or just a bunch of bureaucrats who don’t appreciate the need to preserve a historical relic for its nation?

Admiral:
Are you accusing me as one of those bureaucrats?

Holmes:
With all do respect, Sir. I’ve been taught by my father, which happens to be a reverend, not to accused or libel anyone. But, he also told me that those who guilt, will have fear to be accused of his own doings. Do you?

Admiral:
This is an insult! An insult to a high-rank official of the United States Navy! If not because of our Constitution and the Amendments who protect you, young man, I will ….

Holmes:
You will what Admiral? You will what?

Admiral:
Hmmph, I will take this no more. This whole talk show thing is a setup. I’ll walk out. Good day!

Powell:
But Admiral, please …. We haven’t finished yet.

Admiral:
Finish what! As it is for me, it’s done! (left)

Powell:
Well, ladies and gentlemen. As you can see, the Admiral had left the building, and I reckon we better end the show. Before that, is there any closing you would like to make Holmes or —-?

Holmes:
No. I think my poem and this talk show said it all.

Citizen:
Well, I just want to say that we must preserve the ship instead of using the money for something that is not obvious. And, we all now know what kind of Secretary of Navy we’ve got. I think that would be it.

Powell:
Okay, thank you. Holmes, thank you very much for your time here with us. Hopefully the Navy would react the way the people want them to, which is to preserve the great USS Constitution, the greatest battleship ever build. What you’re going to do next?

 Holmes:
I’ll carry on my life as usual. Finishing my study at Harvard, so I could be authorized to practice medicine. And by then you may call me “doctor”.

Powell:
Well, good luck to you. Also thank you for your participation in our show. And most of all thank you America for being with us in the Powell Show. See you next week, and may God bless America!

 -Kentucky , August 2002

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    Michael is a professional leader in the fields of energy investments, complex commercial deals, and sustainability with extensive international experience. His personal interests span from socio-political issues, history, and culture.

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