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Monday, November 12, 2012

Veterans Day with a Bit of History

On this day that we honor our veterans who have fought for our freedom for more than two centuries, I thought it would be interesting to recall a bit of American history. This year of 2012 is the 200th anniversary of a war we seldom hear about, the War of 1812 when we locked in our independence from the British.

The most famous ship of the American Navy is called the USS Constitution. Built in Boston in 1794, its first mission was to protect American merchant ships from the Barbary pirates. The USS Constitution is most famous for its actions during the War of 1812 when it defeated five British warships and captured numerous merchant ships. The defeat of the British warship called Guerriere earned the USS Constitution the nickname of Old Ironsides, and public affection for this old sailing vessel has repeatedly saved it from scrapping.

After the War of 1812, the USS Constitution continued to actively serve our country in the Mediterranean, and it circled the world in the 1840s. During the American Civil War, the USS Constitution served as a training ship for the U.S. Naval Academy. This ship carried art and industrial displays to the Paris Exposition of 1878. This famous ship was retired from active service only in 1881, and was designated as a museum ship in 1907. The USS Constitution sailed under her own power for its 200th birthday in 1997.

Today, the USS Constitution's mission is to promote understanding of the U.S. Navy's role in war and peace through education, historic demonstrations, and participation in public events. Its crew of 60 officers and sailors participate in ceremonies and special events, keeping the ship open to visitors year round and providing free tours. If you want to see this beautiful old sailing vessel sometime, you can find it at Pier 1 at one end of Boston's Freedom Trail.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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