Battle of San Francisco: New Campaign for the Iowa





If anyone doubts Merylin Wong's determination in beating the odds and bringing the soon-to-be mothballed battleship Iowa to San Francisco, consider her ordeal not long ago on "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" on Comedy Central.

Ms. Wong suffered through jokes about her name ("you are barking up the wong tree") and queries about why the battleship that in 1943 carried President Franklin D. Roosevelt to the conference of Allied leaders in Tehran, Iran, should not be retired to its namesake state. (Iowa is far from the ocean, she offered.)

Ms. Wong, a former banker, is the president of the Historic Ships Memorial at Pacific Square, a volunteer group that has been lobbying to bring the battleship to the San Francisco waterfront as a tourist attraction. Her participation in the comedy routine might have been interpreted as an act of desperation, coming as it did months after the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted against a resolution urging that the Iowa be located here and nearly a decade into the group's official campaign for the battleship.

What to do with the Iowa is ultimately the Navy's call, although the board's vote in July created a sensation, especially among conservative bloggers and talk show hosts who saw it as unpatriotic. It did not help that some of the supervisors intended the rejection as a signal to the Bush administration that both the war in Iraq and the Pentagon's stance against openly gay service members were wrong.



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