Sailors from USS Constitution March in 111th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Sailors from USS Constitution March in 111th Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade

Sailors from USS Constitution marched in the 111th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in South Boston March 18.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to interact with the city that we call our home,” said Cmdr. Matthew Bonner, Constitution’s 72nd commanding officer. “The War of 1812 isn’t understood by a lot of people, and Boston, having one of the only living artifacts from that war, serves as a great reminder of why we had a Navy back then and why we need one today.”

The parade, which commemorated the tradition of Boston’s first Irish celebration in 1737, began at 1 p.m., ending at approximately 4 p.m. Tens of thousands of spectators attended the three-mile route, and more than 50 marching bands and floats participated.

The crew from Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Laboon (DDG 58) also marched in the parade as part of their port visit to Boston.

“I’m proud to be part of this joyful environment, and being out with all my shipmates,” said Seaman Esmeralda Ortega, Constitution. “This was my first parade with the command, and it was just overwhelming; so many people showing their support for us. Boston really loves the USS Constitution.”

Constitution is the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat and welcomes more than 500,000 visitors per year. She defended the sea lanes against threat from 1797 to 1855, much like the mission of today’s Navy.

Constitution’s mission today is to offer community outreach and education about the ship’s history. Currently, her crew is planning to commemorate bicentennial of the War of 1812 through public demonstrations and educational activities at seven Navy Weeks across the U.S. in 2012. America’s Navy: Keeping the sea free for more than 200 years.

Naval Today Staff , March 20, 2012; Image: navy