USS Constitution Pays Tribute to Boston First Responders, Battle of Midway
USS Constitution Sailors held the ship’s first underway this year with a special tribute paid to first responders to the events surrounding the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings and to commemorate the 71st anniversary of the Battle of Midway, June 4.
More than 375 guests accompanied the 215-year-old Constitution on the commemorative underway, including first responders from the FBI, City of Boston Fire, and Police Departments, Massachusetts State Police Department, MBTA Police Department, Watertown Police Department, Massachusetts National Guard, and medical responders from Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston EMS, and Boston Medical Center.
“It’s a true honor to be invited [to Constitution] and to represent the men and women of the Watertown Police Department,” said Watertown Police Chief Edward Deveau. “I’m accompanied by several officers who were right there on Laurel street in the middle of the gunfire and explosives being thrown at them [by Boston Marathon bombing suspects], and to be here with them on this beautiful day on this beautiful ship is an incredibly emotional feeling. It’s also great to be among all the other first responders as I walk around hearing so many different stories from so many people who play a role in making Boston safe and making us the community we are.”
The three-hour underway tour through Boston Harbor featured a wreath-laying ceremony in honor of Battle of Midway and Boston Marathon bombing victims, along with a 21-gun salute off Fort Independence on Castle Island in South Boston, and an additional 17-gun salute near U.S. Coast Guard Base Boston prior to ‘Old Ironsides’ return to its pier at Charlestown Navy Yard.
“Today was our chance to say ‘thank you’ to all the first responders for all they’ve done for us,” said Cmdr. Matt Bonner, Constitution’s 72nd commanding officer. “People often thank us in the military for our service, and this was our opportunity to thank all the people who do so much every day to keep our families safe here at home so we’re able to do our jobs while deployed abroad.”
Constitution Sailors also hoisted two flags displaying ‘Boston Strong’ that were flown atop two of the ship’s masts during the majority of the underway, which were eventually hauled-down and signed by first responders on the spar deck of ‘Old Ironsides’.
“I’m very grateful for the support we’ve received from the citizens of the City of Boston and the State of Massachusetts, and for all they do for us in the armed forces, especially aboard Constitution,” said Bonner. “We’re extremely proud to be a part of ‘Boston Strong’.”
USS Constitution, the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat, actively defended sea lanes against global threats from 1797 to 1855. Now a featured attraction on Boston’s Freedom Trail, Constitution and her crew of U.S. Navy Sailors offer community outreach and education about the ship’s history to more than 500,000 visitors each year.
Press Release, June 6, 2013; Image: US Navy