Today is the U.S. Navy’s 233rd birthday, a day that will be celebrated on ships, bases and commands all around the world. There will be Navy Balls, speeches and ceremonies to mark the event.
It is right and proper to do so. But amidst the celebration, we should all take time to contemplate the service we honor. It almost seems trivial to observe the event without really understanding what the Navy is all about.
It’s about history, for sure. Since before the birth of our nation men have gone down to the sea in ships, sometimes fighting against incredible odds. Their commitment to the sacred cause of liberty gave us one of the most precious gifts that can be given: a nation founded on the principles that everyone is created equal and has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Their legacy will be acknowledged today through tradition and ceremony, but their feats can only be honored by remembering what they sacrificed – what they really sacrificed – so that others may live better lives.
The breathtaking capabilities of today’s Navy are the collective accumulation of over two centuries of effort by those who went before us. Each of them contributed in some way to propel the Navy into the most powerful and capable maritime force ever seen on earth.
And when you think about it, when you really want to understand the Navy, you need look no further than the nearest crew’s mess, or Chief’s mess, or the wardroom.
Because the Navy is its people. There is a bond that forms between those who choose a profession at sea – a shared understanding of the life, the language, the hardships of the mariner. But more than that, those who wear the uniform of the U.S. Navy have committed their lives to defend the noble concept that all human beings should be free. They would rather fight for that freedom than have it handed to them, and that makes them unique among all people.
It is a fellowship that endures for life. All Sailors eventually hang up the uniform, but their blood will always run Navy blue. For the rest of their lives, when they come across others who have been in the Navy, they will greet them with an understanding eye and a nod that says, “I served too.”
President Kennedy once said, “…any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: ‘I served in the United States Navy.'” (Naval Historical Center)
He said it all. Happy Birthday Navy.