BOSTON (NNS) -- USS Constitution and her crew headed underway from the ship's berth in Charlestown, Massachusetts, June 8, in commemoration of the 76th Anniversary of the Battle of Midway.
In coordination with the National Parks of Boston, Naval History and Heritage Command, and USS Constitution Museum, the crew of USS Constitution hosted the American public, as well as many guests from across the nation, as a thank you for their tremendous support of the United States armed services and our veterans.
Slipping her berth at 10:30 a.m. with 431 guests, Constitution navigated down the Charles River Basin out to Boston's Inner Harbor.
While transiting the Boston Harbor, the FREMM-class multi-purpose frigate Italian Ship (ITS) Alpino (F 594), one of the world's most innovative newly commissioned frigates, rendered honors to America's Ship of State, USS Constitution.
Among the distinguished visitors aboard Constitution was retired Rear Adm. Samuel J. Cox, the director of Naval History and Heritage Command, who spoke about the Battle of Midway, as well as the men who served in the Navy at the time.
"The draft for World War II had been in effect for less than a year at the time that the battle of Midway took place, so almost all of the Sailors who were fighting at Midway were, like service members are today, volunteers," said Cox. "Unlike service members today, who have the support of the nation, most of the Sailors who fought at Midway volunteered at a time where there was isolationism, pacifism, and an extremely sparse military budget and the result was the United States was not prepared for the war that occurred. Those volunteers held the line at the cost of their lives for a nation that was not ready for war and their actions resulted in a big change in the course of history."
Constitution fired off a 21-gun salute which was returned by the Concord Independent Battery near Fort Independence on Castle Island. Fort Independence is a state park that served as a defensive position for Boston Harbor from 1634 to 1962.
"My experience was absolutely amazing," said Constitution's Command Master Chief Jeremy Kingston, who was pinned to master chief during the underway. "To see how far the Navy and the military have come since Midway and to be a part of that commemoration is extremely important. Constitution's number one mission is to promote the United States Navy and that mission starts with recognizing those who have gone before. Honoring those who have gone before is part of the Sailor's Creed and the Oath of Enlistment. There's no greater honor than to recognize the sacrifice of those who have gone before."
The ship also fired an additional 17 rounds as she passed the U.S. Coast Guard Station, the former site of Edmund Hartt's shipyard where Constitution was built. Each round of this salute honored the 16 states that comprised the United States when Constitution launched in 1797 and one in honor of the ship herself.
Following the second salute, Constitution's crew and members from National Parks of Boston paid tribute to the fallen of WWII with a wreath laying toward the World War II-era Fletcher-class destroyer USS Cassin Young (DD 793). At the conclusion of the wreath laying, members of the 1812 Marine Guard Riflemen fired a 3-gun volley followed by the playing of taps.
USS Constitution hosted members of the American public who participated in a lottery for a spot on the underway.
"Being aboard Constitution during the commemoration was a solemn experience," said Marc Parent, a Constitution lottery winner. "The tributes that were performed were extremely well done. I'm a big fan of USS Constitution. To be able to come aboard her was unreal. This was one of the best experiences I've ever had in my life."
The ship returned to her berthing, Pier 1 of the Charlestown Navy Yard, at 1:30 p.m.
The Battle of Midway is often cited as the turning point of the war in the Pacific during World War II. The U.S. Navy lost one aircraft carrier, USS Yorktown, but sank all four Japanese aircraft carriers that participated in the battle. The four Japanese carriers sunk had also been involved in the attack on Pearl Harbor, making the victory even more meaningful.
Constitution, America's Ship of State, actively defended sea lanes against global threats from 1797-1855. The world's oldest commissioned warship afloat, Constitution embodies 220 years of maritime heritage and unwavering service to her country. Now a featured destination on Boston's Freedom Trail, Constitution and her crew of active duty U.S. Navy Sailors offer community outreach and education about the ship's history and the importance of naval sea power to more than 500,000 visitors each year. Constitution is berthed at Pier One in Charlestown Navy Yard.
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