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Independence Day aboard the USS Constitution!
The Davis family (proprietors of this website) journeyed to Boston to partake in a monumental, patriotic and emotionally stirring event – the annual 4th of July turnaround cruise of the USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world.
The Constitution, also known as Old Ironsides, fought in the war of 1812 and gained its notoriety for its ability to withstand enemy fire. This revered ship has saluted the nation with her annual 4th of July ride through the Boston harbor. Back in May when we toured the ship during a Homeschool field trip my youngest son put his name in the lottery to win an invitation to ride. We were amazed to learn, not only was his ballot picked, but another boy in our group won as well. We were headed back to Boston, and of all times – the Fourth of July. Isn’t that the most perfect time to visit the city where key events formed our nation? Paul Revere, Bunker Hill, the Old State House, North Church, Boston Commons, the Boston Tea Party! Not only would this be a to-die-for history opportunity for a homeschool family, but it would be great fun too.
Along with the naval crew, a distinguished array of who’s who and another 800 invited guests, we boarded the ship and we got underway promptly at 11:00 am. TV cameras filmed and the shores were lined with spectators as scores of boats sailed alongside. Pulled by a tug, the sight of the majestic ship easily wet the eyes of all who looked upon her. It was as though a decorated war hero was receiving a welcome. And we were there to witness it! Besides the raising of the Constitution’s flag, a most touching moment was to see the entire crew of the USS Wasp standing at attention, saluting the USS constitution, never moving as she sailed her slow pass.
As she made her way to Castle Island, I mingled in the crowd and met people from all over, as far as Washington State and as close as downtown Boston. While we sailed, a naval band played patriotic music, and we observed a magistrate conduct an onboard naturalization ceremony. The highlight for all was when Old Ironsides faced the jam-packed island and sounded a booming 21-cannon salute. Though we wore ear-plugs (there was a sprinkling of thrill seekers who kept the plugs out), our whole bodies reverberated with every blast. My boys each got to take home an empty shell casing as a souvenir!
There were a few more speeches, and we were soon back at shore. The most honored guests departed following the signal of the boatman’s whistle, each saluting the flag as they left the ship. They walked down the ramp and through a line of naval officers dressed in 19th century uniforms. Our time on the USS Constitution was over. As we made our way off the ship, we all agreed it was an awesome experience. We are thankful for the honor to have been invited, and in years to come it is unlikely we will ever forget our Independence Day in the year 2007.