By Cmdr. Denis Cox
Command Chaplain, USS Abraham Lincoln.
I’m pleased to be a part of a truly special community outreach project occurring in the Hampton Roads region today. Approximately 1,000 USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Sailors will extend their volunteerism spirit by volunteering at more than 30 separate and different events.
This is where we live, this is where our kids go to school, and this is where we shop. It only makes sense to give back to the community that has given so much to us. When our Sailors are out serving their community, it lets our community knows that those big gray ships that are floating by on the waterfront are full of Hampton Roads citizens who have an investment in their community.
I have served aboard USS Abraham Lincoln for the past two years and will soon transfer to my next duty station. During my time as command chaplain, I had the distinct honor of coordinating various international community outreach events during our eight-month deployment – nearly 1,000 Sailors volunteered in 32 separate projects. Relying on our established community outreach foundation while deployed, the Lincoln chose to continue that volunteerism spirit when the carrier arrived in Norfolk last year and have contributed more than 5,000 volunteer hours in the region. Knowing that the carrier would be in the region for a four-year period, we started a robust and strategic plan to coordinate a variety of projects that would assist the citizens of Virginia. I’m impressed every single day by our Sailors commitment to the Navy, their nation and the surrounding cities they call home.
Today, Lincoln Sailors are continuing that momentum and will volunteer at various projects ranging from building a home for Habitat for Humanity in Hampton, Va., to visiting local elementary and middle schools in Newport News, Va., to cleaning up beaches and parks in Virginia Beach, Va. This massive one-day volunteer outreach by Lincoln Sailors positively impacts the countless community members they will interact with today along with the communities at large.
These volunteer opportunities during Lincoln’s refueling and complex overhaul allow our Sailors to help the communities they serve. In return, their communities have realized the beneficial role of the Navy and Abraham Lincoln Sailors’ volunteerism.
Our namesake also provides us inspiration in every aspect of our work. We constantly look to Abraham Lincoln for leadership principles, applying his values to our current mission. In the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln stated that the Soldiers buried there had given their last “full measure of devotion.” We take this as our theme for this project, dedicating the full force of our crew toward our community. We strive to make this a “full measure of our devotion,” and we know it will not be our last.