The crew of USS Constitution - the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world - celebrated the ship's 211th birthday and recognized the performance of her Sailors Oct. 21.
More than 100 people attended the celebration, including her crew, staff members of the USS Constitution Museum and invited guests for the annual "Grog Ceremony" on her decks. The party also included a birthday cake and the presentation of the Berenson Award, the Military Historical Society of Massachusetts Leadership Award, and Millerick Award.
In his remarks, USS Constitution Commanding Officer Cmdr. William A. Bullard III spoke of the ship's history, legacy and role in today's Navy and world.
"More than 211 years ago today the Unites States Navy, in a very real sense, let down its anchor right here in Boston, and that anchor is this ship," he said. "Without that anchor holding that chain to the ground, that ship will drift off and drift into danger. For 211 years this ship has been the Unites States Navy's anchor. It has kept us grounded and rooted in our tradition and in our heritage that has made us great."
In an active service career that spanned more than half a century, USS Constitution served in the Barbary Wars, Quasi-War with France, the War of 1812 and the African Slave Trade Patrol. She fought in 33 engagements and emerged victorious in each.
"Every Sailor alive today who served or who has served in the United States Navy traces his or her professional heritage right here to these decks. If not for this ship, many of us including our guests, would not be here in the nation that we know today," Bullard said.
The Berenson Award is given annually to the junior crew member who best exemplifies the spirit and ideals of the ship's crew during her sailing days and has consistently demonstrated the highest standards of conduct, loyalty and dedication to the pride of the ship.
During the ceremony, crew member Postal Clerk 3rd Class Karl Hendrickson received the award.
"Known for giving historically detailed and entertaining tours, he represented USS Constitution, as well as the Navy, proudly and professionally," the award citation noted. "Postal Clerk 3rd Class Karl Hendrickson was consistently hand-selected to give tours to senior military officers and high-ranking government officials, instilling in them a sense of pride in our Navy, USS Constitution and our country."
Master-At-Arms 1st Class(SW) Manoj Ram was named the 2008 recipient of the Military Historical Society of Massachusetts Leadership Award.
According to his citation, "Petty Officer Ram was chosen by his peers as the Sailor who consistently displayed the finest leadership qualities and earned the highest respect and trust of all crew members."
The Millerick Award is presented annually to the National Historical Center, Detachment Boston (NHC Det. Boston) civilian worker who in the past year demonstrated a mastery of craftsmanship of American ship-building heritage. It recognizes his outstanding service to the preservation of USS Constitution.
This year's recipient was John Hinckley, as voted by his peers at NHC Det. Boston.
"For my crew, for those of us who love USS Constitution so much, I charge you to keep this ceremony up, let's not keep it a secret," Bullard concluded. "Let's make sure that the Navy, the city of Boston and the country indeed know that this is going on. This is far too important and far too significant of an event to be kept to ourselves."
(Source: Naval News Service)