by MIDN 1/c Jimmy Castano
The USS Constitution Chairman’s Dinner is an event held annually to honor the Navy’s oldest commissioned ship. Alongside her crew, attendees were mostly donors to the museum representing a wide range of professions, but with the common goal of continuing the legacy of the oldest active warship afloat. This year, a total of 9 midshipmen where invited to partake in the celebration.
Launched on Oct. 21st, 1797, the USS Constitution went on to serve with distinction in both the Quasi War with France and the Barbary Wars, winning every engagement she fought in. During the War of 1812, she battled with the HMS Guerriere, and as cannon balls bounced off her oak hull, one of the crew shouted “Huzzah! Her sides are made of iron!” It was from this moment that the USS Constitution earned the nickname “Old Ironsides.” Recently, the USS Constitution is noted to be the only American commissioned warship still afloat that has sunk an enemy ship in combat, a testament to the level of peace our Navy has managed to maintain on the high seas over the past few decades. A symbol of American resilience, even today she continues to serve her Navy and community.
The goal of the Chairman’s Dinner is to raise awareness about the USS Constitution and her place in U.S. history, and to raise funds for the USS Constitution Museum, which generates all its funds from donations. Growing up just a subway ride away from the Charlestown shipyard, as a child I remember visiting the museum and the ship itself to learn about naval history. At this dinner, I learned that the museum also commits to teaching children about math, physics, and engineering, in addition to history. These lessons are all done through the lens of a crewman 200 years ago, serving on the USS Constitution.
Donors were excited to hear about our lives as midshipmen, many having family serving or who have served in the Navy or in another branch of the military. Being mostly MIDN 1/c in attendance, it felt great to reflect on how far we have come since we started the program. I felt pride telling others what the NROTC program has done for me.
Following the reception, we were provided with dinner as the recipients of the Charles Francis Adams Award, for service to the community, and the Samuel Eliot Morrison Award, for artful scholarship and the desire to preserve our past, were recognized. Thanks to the sacrifices and goodwill of those in attendance, the USS Constitution no doubt will continue to serve us for many more years to come.