Naval Support Activity Washington (NSAW) celebrated the U.S. Navy's 237th birthday at the Washington Navy Yard (WNY) with a bell ringing ceremony as part of a Navywide celebration Oct. 12. The ceremony was held in conjunction with bell ringing ceremonies throughout the fleet as a focal point for the commands in their areas and their respective communities for the Navy's birthday. These ceremonies served to instill in Sailors the importance of the Navy's role as the shield of the republic for 237 years.
"On this 237th birthday of our Navy, we have the honor to serve in the greatest maritime fighting force the world has ever seen, but we do so with humility, continuing to build upon the framework those fighting Sailors forged before us," said Cmdr. David Varner, commanding officer of NSAW, during his remarks at the ceremony. "Here is to 237 years of proud naval heritage, and many more!"
During the ceremonies, a bell was rung nine times. Eight bells were rung to signal the end of the watch, representing the end of the current birthday year, and one additional bell to signal the start of a new watch, representing the start of the Navy's next year. NSAW held its bell ringing ceremony at Leutze Park on the WNY, where a ceremonial bell from USS Mitscher (DDG-35) was rung by Raymond Morris, a former Mitscher crewmember.
Servicemembers, civilians, and guests alike looked forward to the future of the nation's naval service, while honoring the commitment and sacrifices of those who had served in the more than two centuries of the Navy's defense of the country.
"From our founding to this moment, we have continuously upheld our honor, courage and commitment," said Capt. Henry J. Hendrix, director, Naval History and Heritage Command who spoke at NSAW's event of the humanitarian acts and courageous spirits that are at the heart of the Navy. "We are a thousand acts of kindness in the midst of nature's greatest disasters, and we are our enemy's worst nightmare when our anger is aroused. We are the greatest, the most powerful, and the most respected maritime fighting force that the world has ever witnessed. And we are on watch around the world."
These sentiments were echoed throughout the Navy with statements from naval leaders at home and abroad, including Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus.
"This year's celebration of our 237th birthday is highlighted by anniversaries that have defined us as the greatest maritime warfighting force in history," said Mabus in his birthday message to the fleet Oct. 11. "While we have innovated and built the world's greatest fleet through the years, what makes our Navy part of the best expeditionary fighting force the world has ever known is our Sailors. You are standing the watch and sustaining peace in the global commons."
In addition to the bell ringing ceremonies, commands in Naval District Washington celebrated the Navy's birthday with special events as well. A ceremony was held at the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., Oct. 12 with Rear Adm. Patrick J. Lorge, commandant, NDW, laying a wreath in honor of Sailors past, present and future; Naval Support Activity Annapolis and the U.S. Naval Academy held events from Oct. 10-14 including a parade by the Brigade of Midshipmen, a Navy birthday worship service at the Naval Academy chapel, and performances by the U.S. Naval Academy Band; Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling held a Navy birthday 5K and 10K run/walk Oct. 12, attended by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike D. Stevens; and Naval Air Station Patuxent River hosted a Navy Ball Oct. 12.
To see photos of these events, please visit NDW's Facebook page at www.face book.com/Navdistwash.