When the Crimson Tide go up against the Bulldogs in Monday's College Football Playoff National Championship, I'll be supporting the University of Alabama against the University of Georgia.
While I'm not a huge football fan, I am a fan of Alabama's nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) namesake, the USS Alabama.
As one of the U.S. Navy's 14 SSBNs, the Alabama and its crew guard against our nuclear annihilation. As I've noted, "with each SSBN armed with 24 missiles and at least 8 independent nuclear warheads per missile, one U.S. Ohio-class submarine carries at least 192 nuclear warheads varying between yields of 100 and 475 kilotons." This absolutely deterrent capacity is the absolute finest of any military platform on earth.
But there's another reason I have specific regard for Alabama: a scene from the movie, "Crimson Tide."
In that movie, facing a serious nuclear threat from a Russian rebel leader (who bears a striking similarity to the Russian parliament's foremost psychopath, Vladimir Zhirinovsky), the USS Alabama is deployed in preparation for a pre-emptive nuclear strike against Russian missile forces. Motivating his crew, Captain Jack Ramsey (played by Gene Hackman) addresses the chief of the boat on their namesake, profession and country. The conclusion, which I remember watching with my father as a young American abroad, is very stirring.
"And what is that name, Mr. COB?"
"And what do we say?"
"Go 'Bama! Roll Tide!"
For me, the scene has always encapsulated America at its best: immense power and courage, pursuant to a great moral cause. The willingness to fight and win for freedom rather than cower in the face of totalitarian adversaries.
And while the movie might have been a work of fiction, at this very moment the real USS Alabama is standing watch for real. Moreover, as one of seven SSBNs assigned to Submarine Squadron 17 in Bangor, Washington, Alabama's crews are on the front line against North Korea.
Of course, I would be remiss here not to give a shout out to the USS Georgia and its crews: after all, they also stand ready to launch conventional missiles or special operations forces against America's enemies.
Yet I have to pick a side, and because of nuclear weapons, North Korea, and the movie "Crimson Tide," on Monday I'll be rooting for the Tide.