USS Constitution commemorates the ship's historic victory over HMS Guerriere during the War of 1812.
Last Thursday after my last infusion (for this month), I dashed over to the Charlestown Navy Yard for one of my favorite events. The annual commemoration of this important naval battle happens aboard ship during August. It's generally a warm, pleasant evening in one of my happiest places.
I had planned on leaving the hospital, heading to my parents and napping before heading down to the ship. However, instead of spending an hour there, the nurses held me hostage for 3 hours (kidding!). But it was still enough time to get across town, park, grab my water and get aboard the ship.....barely, lol.
There is still lots of construction going on so they have Sailors waiting to escort people aboard the ship. When I passed through the gate I was greeted by name by a very enthusiastic Sailor...ok, they are all happy and enthusiastic. Anyway, she seemed to have a particular spot in mind for me and I am sure it was great. However, there was only so much steam left in the engine after my treatment, so when we passed an empty front row seat, I plopped right in it!
I am in the front row, far left (port) seat of the section facing the podium. After resting a moment and taking a few sips of water, I sent a few Tweets. I noted the master of ceremonies, LCDR Savage, and CDR Cooper's remarks. There was a speaker from the museum and a gentleman who gave a very stirring recitation of "Old Ironsides" by Oliver Wendell Holmes. You could see the absolute delight on CDR Cooper's face as he listened.
Of course my favorite speaker was Mr. Michael Jackson. Mr. Jackson is a descendent of
First Lieutenant William Sharp Bush, officer in charge of the Marine Guard. 1st LT Bush was the first United States Marine officer killed in combat. Mr. Jackson tells of a letter writter to his ancestor, 1st LT Bush's brother that was passed down through the family. The letter is now in the USS Constitution Museum after some restoriation work. Even with the added fibers, etc., you can still see the crease where Mr. Jackson father folded it so he could carry it in his wallet as he fought with the US Navy on a minesweeper in the Pacific during WWII. Think of the many times the letter could have been lost or damaged beyond repair. Amazing.
After the ceremony I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Jackson and we spoke about LT Bush and the ship named in his honor, the destroyer USS Bush. I asked about his father's service. Turns out his father was a "skivvy waver" like my own!
When we were discussing the letter itself and how it came to land in the museum, Mr. Jackson said he almost didn't mention his father carrying it around the Pacific. I told him to NEVER leave that part out because it resounds with my Sailors. I tell the story all the time and Sailors love that part, just like me.
My last tweet was about how there aren't words to describe how happy I am to be aboard Old Ironsides on a warm August night. The sun was going down, the view was an enormous ensign waving gently with Building 5 and the Monument behind.