Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My Fabulous Day......Blow By Blow

Over the next few days I will be blogging my fabulous day on USS Constitution and at the Constitution Museum. There are actually several things I want the blog about (politics, more Navy stuff), but with all the extra sleeping I've been doing......blogging is losing out to work and life. Except, of course, on the crazy insomnia nights.

So, I was up at 0545, a good half hour later than I wanted to be. But hey, when you are on the pharmaceutical cocktail I'm taking, sleeping and waking are out of your hands. Anyway, that put me behind enough to miss Mass. Anytime I am in Boston that early I like to hit the 0730 service. But it was not to be.

I found a spot on Bunker a block up from my parents and bumped into my uncle Walter. That was a pleasant surprise. Once I was at my parent's house my mother's first question was "Where are you parked?" You see there is almost no parking Charlestown unless you have a resident sticker. On a Tuesday, street cleaning compounds the problem. So, of course, I was on the wrong side of the street and had to move down to Terminal Street. By the time I got back, I had very little time to hang. I probably should have just headed down to the Navy Yard, found a spot and read in my car. LOL, oh well.

Around 0840 I headed on down to City Square, found a legal spot and I was at the gate ten minutes later. CDR Bullard's guests were in a room in Building 5 for the few minutes before the ceremony began. I met Mrs. & The Reverend Stephen T. Ayres of the Old North Church and had a too short conversation before we were escorted to the ship.

Aboard the ship we joined a group of USS Constitution maintenance and repair (M&R) crew, staff from the USS Constitution Museum and the crew in full period regalia.

The official guests were then piped aboard (no, even though I am the goddess of the naval blogger strike group, I was not piped aboard) and assembled on the hatch cover.

CDR Bullard was the first to speak. He spoke very movingly of Constitution's legacy and relevance. The phrase that really struck me was when he described the ship as the anchor of the US Navy. I'd never considered it, but it fit perfectly. An anchor which connects every sailor to Navy history. He noted that more people should be celebrating this day with us. That more people should be there. That more people should appreciate the significance of the event, the history that is right there for us to see and touch.

Of course, I completely agree. I am all for promoting history, especially Boston history....especially Navy history, lol and this had it all rolled together. Although, if there are going to be bigger crowds, I have to have a good spot reserved for myself.

Growing up in Charlestown, we all felt somewhat possessive of "Old Ironsides". I remember a few years ago there was talk - just a mere suggestion - of Constitution moving to New York. You can't imagine the horror Townies expressed. First off, what a ridiculous notion, but seriously, you can't just come and take our ship!!!!!

But that aside it really is America's ship. It really is the ultimate celebration of the Navy's heritage. When you really consider it, the significance of this ship that I ran the decks of my whole life......is huge! When I was standing there, looking at it through CDR Bullard's eyes, I was awestruck.

While I was processing the feelings that his remarks brought to the surface, the podium was turned over to a spokesman for the M&R crew. This celebration was also the occasion for giving out some awards. The first was for the outstanding member of the M&R crew. It was a Mr. Hinckley and I will try to get more info on him. The next two presentations were awards for outstanding members of the crew. Again I'll flesh that out a little more in future posts.

Finally it was time for grog......and cake. LOL, how do you like that combination. Hot rum with water and lemon. Surprisingly, I liked it. When it was hot that is....cold? Blech! Drinking is of course, still a problem with the exacerbated tremor, but I managed to drink it not wear it.

I had a two second introduction to RDML Deloach, USN (ret), who is the Director of Naval History. He seemed to have other appointments, which was a bummer because I could have talked to him for a while! I use their website all the time. Yes, my Dad was in the Navy. Yes, I know lots of Sailors. Yes, I have seen every episode of "Victory at Sea" dozens of times. But still, there's plenty I don't know and this site is a huge help and very interesting.

By this point it's nearly 1000 and they need to get ready for the first tour of the day with the public. So I returned my grog cup and followed the crowd down the gangplank.

On the dock CDR Gillen, USN (ret) a Townie who was commander of Constitution from 1978 to 1980 introduced himself to me. He explained he was from "Char-les-town" which is funny little thing that Townies of my Dad's generation do. It's like a code word. It says, "I don't just live here. I didn't just move here. I am of Charlestown." I smiled a wicked smile and said "I am ________'s daughter" (fill in the blank with my Dad's name). "Ahhh" and then, as they say the sun came out when he smiled.

Ok, so it's late and the pill is working it's magic. I will stop here. This is actually where I thought my adventure would stop. I thought at this point I'd pop in the car and head to work. But instead, the day took an excellent turn. I'll take it up again tomorrow.

But for now, I'll leave you with this. Never pass up an invitation. Never pass up on the history in your backyard. Never pass up the chance to have someone tell you their feelings about something that's important to you. You may see you treasured item in a whole new light.

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