Manning James Harvey III of James Island has won The Post and Courier's Golden Pen award for June for his letter to the editor "Save our 'seagoing ambassador.' "
Mr. Harvey, a Navy veteran, warned that the Spirit of South Carolina was in jeopardy.
He hailed that sailing vessel of traditional design as "the masterpiece of Mount Pleasant master shipwright Mark Bayne" and "as much a part of South Carolina as the great oaks that live in her hull."
"The backs and sweat of the South's greatest professional ship builders and hundreds of volunteers worked for years at Charleston's Ansonborough Field downtown. Thousands came and donated what they could to see her commissioned.
"She is the pride and the spirit of the people of South Carolina. Over 6,000 of the state's young people have experienced their Southern maritime heritage firsthand on her decks."
But he warned that "on Wednesday, June 18, the Spirit of South Carolina's fate is at the end of the auctioneer's gavel," adding, "She has not sailed in months and her upkeep has been minimal as her owner is a bank."
He delivered this appeal: "The Spirit of South Carolina must be saved. She is the seagoing ambassador of the South. Her blue palmetto flag should fly in ports around the globe. She is representative of our people, our heritage with the sea and dedication to education, international commerce and environmental causes in our state."
Mr. Harvey emphasized:
"I pray that the governor will declare her a state park, a protected property of the state of South Carolina. Perhaps a South Carolina 'not for profit' organization, or a South Carolina industry such as Boeing or BMW can save her. ... We simply cannot lose our ship."
And the good news is that there's still a fair chance that we won't.
Two local businessmen who bought the ship at that auction said they hope to maintain it as an educational asset.
Golden Pen winners are invited to an annual luncheon with the editorial staff.