I'm referring, of course, to the "S.S. United States" -- the fastest oceanliner ever built. Last week, news broke that the foreign owner of the historic steamship is taking bids from scrapyards.
But a small band of preservationists is fighting to save the luxury superliner, which is currently docked (see photos here) in Philadelphia. They're extremely passionate: Sometimes they even go on "ship-touching trips" -- hiring small boats to sail out into the Delaware River and touch the hull.
They are racing to preserve a remarkable statement of midcentury American power, prowess and exuberance. The SS United States traveled with three orchestras on board--but was also secretly designed to transform into a Cold War weapon against the Soviets. During its storied career, the ship carried the Mona Lisa, a young Bill Clinton, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and Walter Cronkite, among countless other passengers famous and not-so-famous. Mr. Cronkite, himself a national treasure, called the potential loss of the SS United States a national tragedy before he passed away last year.
The era of the great, romantic oceanliners may be gone, but the SS United States is looking for a new life. And you can help.
Abigail Pesta is an award-winning journalist who has lived and worked around the world. Currently she is the editor-at-large of Marie Claire magazine in New York. In Hong Kong, she was a news and features editor for The Wall Street Journal. In London, she ran an editing desk for Dow Jones Newswires. She has also worked at Glamour, where she launched Mariane Pearl's popular column about women who change the world. Abby writes short stories for her website, Fine Words Butter No Parsnips.