Written by Lt. Cmdr. Pride Sanders
Continuing a tradition passed down through generations of mariners and navies, the U.S. Navy Memorial’s 23rd Annual Blessing of the Fleets took place on Saturday, April 12, in Washington, D.C., in front of a crowd of hundreds on Pennsylvania Ave.
The event, which kicked off the Navy Memorial’s Year of the Coast Guard, was suffused with unique Coast Guard elements that resonated service pride and patriotism.
The blessing of the fleet ritual is intended to safeguard crews and ships from the danger of the seas through a blessing given by a clergyman at the water’s edge. This year’s clergyman was the Coast Guard Atlantic Area Chaplain Capt. Dennis Young, from the U. S. Navy Chaplain Corps.
During the ceremony, members of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guards fanned out across the outdoor plaza’s “Granite Sea” to pour water from the seven seas and Great Lakes into the surrounding fountains, charging them to life and welcoming the spring season.
The water was collected by more than 100 Coast Guard units from the lakes, rivers, seas, bays and oceans they navigate.
During his keynote speech, Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Bob Papp surprised everyone in attendance with one more vial of water that has special significance to every Coast Guardsman. The water was taken from the waters off the island of Nevis in the British West Indies, near the birthplace of the Coast Guard’s founding father, Alexander Hamilton.
The centerpiece of the Navy Memorial’s Year of the Coast Guard is an exhibit that introduces visitors to the service’s current missions and its long and rich history.The memorial’s museum area has been transformed into a treasure trove of Coast Guard history that includes historical photographs and original artwork, uniforms, recruiting posters from military collections, and other rare artifacts.Throughout the year, the Navy Memorial will focus a large part of its educational efforts on highlighting the Coast Guard’s service, missions, assets, and people. The exhibit will be in place through March 2015.
To learn more about the U.S. Navy Memorial and follow Year of the Coast Guard activities, you can call (202) 737-2300 or visit www.navymemorial.org for more information.