(…that grand old namesake of our founding charter)

After several years in a special drydock, and a lot of craft work to restore it into working order, the USS Constitution…that grand old namesake of our founding charter…will soon be afloat again in Boston’s harbor. It’s the oldest warship from the age of sail and booming broadsides still afloat and in active commission with our Navy. Built and launched in 1797, it’s now 220 years old making it the most “senior” vessel of our Navy (and anyone else’s except Admiral Nelson’s …Victory…in permanent drydock at Portsmouth in the UK). In any event, we think it’s an uplifting bit of serendipity that it’s back in the water at the same time as the launching of our newest and most advanced warship of its kind…the aircraft carrier – Gerald S. Ford -, named for the President who quietly and gently helped us recover from the trauma of Watergate. It’s an appropriate coincidence.

But a more important aspect about “Old Ironsides” (so-nicknamed because it was double-planked from high grade American oak, thus almost immune from enemy cannon balls which reportedly just bounced off its hull) is that it symbolizes the durability of our republic and its inherent strength to survive…despite the many stresses and strains imposed upon it through all that time of its history. An even grander way to do so, perhaps on our next 4th of July, would be to have Old Ironsides, fully rigged and manned, all its cannons primed, under full sail, leading a naval parade across Boston Harbor, while firing full broadside salutes in celebration of that event before returning to its berth. That would truly be a grand way to symbolize the revitalization of our republic.

Of course, that may be too much of a pipe dream to expect them to allow this historic vessel to do so (unless of course a couple of our super billionaires would volunteer to foot the bill for it). Besides, it’s time to first put this republic of ours into some form of “drydock” itself, just to fix whatever dry rot it has accrued in its institutional structure, and to refurbish all of its standing rigging and brightwork…so it can then sail even more grandly across the geopolitical oceans of this world than it has already.

Well, for those of our citizens who will be visiting this ship at its berth in Boston, let us remind them…this is an “active” vessel of our Navy…so respect for proper protocol from anyone coming aboard is to request permission to do so, and, to salute the quarterdeck… both when boarding and leaving it. We may have been of Army service, but when you’ve had a hard-driving Vice-Admiral in the family…you better believe you learn about such things.