Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) and National Capital Region Medical Directorate (NCR-MD) celebrated the U.S. Navy’s 238th birthday with a cake-cutting ceremony in Building 10’s Eagle Zone on Friday.
The celebration began with members of the Junior Enlisted Mess singing “Anchors Aweigh,” fight song of the U.S. Naval Academy, which has come to be known as the Navy song. A Sailor also rang a bell honoring the Navy’s 238 years of selfless service to the nation, and ringing in its next year with hope and promise.
“It’s important we gather as one team and celebrate, every opportunity we get, the diversity that is Walter Reed Bethesda,” said Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey B. Clark, WRNMMC director. He added celebrating the U.S. Navy’s birthday, [and] recognizing its more than two centuries of service, is “very special.”
Navy Rear Adm. Raquel Bono, NCR-MD director, agreed, saying, “It’s good to see the number of different uniforms out celebrating the Navy’s birthday. This is one of those occasions when we not only celebrate the legacy of our military and Navy, but [also recognize] the historical legacy every one of you is helping to build every day [at Walter Reed Bethesda]. So thank you for what you are contributing to the history and legacy we are establishing here.”
Clark then cut the large sheet cake decorated with the U.S. Navy emblem and the words “Happy 238th, Oct. 13, 1775.” Help in the endeavor came from WRNMMC’s most junior and senior Sailors, Hospitalman Larissa Lemke and Capt. Kenneth Kelleher, respectively.
Lemke said she “absolutely loves” the Navy and plans to make it a career, while Kelleher, a general surgeon, joined the Navy during the Vietnam era. Both said participating in the cake-cutting ceremony was “an honor,” and symbolized the tradition of passing the Navy’s traditions and legacy from one generation to another.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, in a video message shown at the celebration, said, “Since our beginning in 1775, our Navy has defended America with pride, a tradition that continues today. As Secretary of the Navy, I have the honor and privilege of working with the finest men and women our country has to offer. This was the case 238 years ago, and remains as true today as it was at our Navy’s inception. We are and will continue to be, America’s ‘Away Team,’ the finest expeditionary fighting force the world has ever known.”
During the Battle of Lake Erie, “perhaps the most dramatic and important battle in the War of 1812, our Sailors really showed their mettle and tenacity, and in fact, were the asymmetrical advantage for our forces,” said Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Jonathan Greenert. “Today, the all-volunteer force – you - are our asymmetrical advantage. Think about that as we celebrate our 238th birthday.”
“For 238 years, our Navy has overcome enormous challenges and faced adversity. We’ve risen with those challenges and built a reputation as the strongest naval force the world has ever seen,” added Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike Stevens. He also noted people, not resources or the environment, keeps the Navy moving forward. “This is our heritage,” he said.
Looking forward, Greenert said for today’s Navy, “War fighting is first; we [will] operate forward, and we will be ready. We will use the genius of our diverse all-volunteer force, and we will be where it matters, when it matters, because that’s what [we’re] about [in] our great Navy of today.”
The United States Navy traces its origins to the Continental Navy and recognizes Oct. 13, 1775 as the date of its official establishment – the date of the passage of the resolution of the Continental Congress at Philadelphia, Pa., that created the Continental Navy.