Each year at this time and as Independence Day approaches, the thoughts of many South Boston locals turn to all the history that was made in this part of the country. One of the biggest and most famous pieces of our history is of course America’s and in fact the world’s oldest still commissioned war ship the ‘USS Constitution’. The 220-year-old ship, named by George Washington himself, and affectionately nick named ‘Old Ironsides’ because of the famous battles it fought in against great odds and prevailed, has always been a favorite of South Bostonians when, for years, we get the thrill of seeing it make its annual turn around in the harbor with ship’s cannons blazing.
This year, two Massachusetts natives have received the honor of being part of the handpicked US Navy crew and they could not be more proud. Petty Officer 2nd Class Jeffrey Hammerman, an electrician’s mate originally from the town of Winthrop and Commander John Benda, who is second in command of the ship will be part of the 77-person navy crew. Said Hammerman “I’m honored to have been selected to serve on America’s oldest warship that is so rich in history and successfully held off the British Navy during the War of 1812. I have always had the instinct to do something different”. Cmdr Bender stated that for him “it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity”.
Hammerman and Bender along with every naval personnel member on board go through rigorous training and studies in the field of American Naval History in the age of sail. This enables them to be experts in the area of educating the public about the topic as the ship receives hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
Old Ironsides is a featured destination for tourists when visiting the Boston Freedom Trail. The ship and its highly professional crew offer community outreach and education and tours on a regularly scheduled basis to all who have a desire to learn about this part of America’s rich history.
As of this July 4th, The United States of America will be 242 years old and still standing as proud and as strong as ever and so too is Old Ironsides. If you are one of the few South Bostonians who still have not taken the tour of the USS Constitution it is highly recommended you do. It will be like a walk back in time to a different era that helped shape this nation. It will be an experience you’ll not soon; if ever forget and something that can be enjoyed by the entire family. For information on tours and schedules you can call 617-242=2543 or log onto [email protected]
(Note: Some of the information for this article was sent in by the US Navy office of Community Outreach. South Boston Today thanks the US Navy for reaching out to this newspaper and we sincerely thank them for their service to our country.)