October 25, 2022
Secretary of the Navy Joins Historic Anniversary Celebrations; Offers Reflections on 225-Year History of USS Constitution and Future of U.S. Navy
CHARLESTOWN, MA (October 24, 2022)—On Friday, October 21, the USS Constitution Museum launched a year-long anniversary celebration by welcoming the Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Carlos Del Toro, for a visit to mark the occasion. The Secretary’s remarks to community, business, civic, and veteran leaders, “Reflections on 225 Years of USS Constitution: The Past, Present, and Future of the U.S. Navy” commemorated the 225th birthday of USS Constitution and the 50th birthday of the Museum.
The Secretary connected the legacy of “Old Ironsides” to the role of today’s U.S. Navy as a protector of freedom and trade around the world. He noted that the future success of that mission requires the American people’s support. The Navy fuels our economy, he notes, where 80% of our trade travels through the seas and supports one trillion daily transactions. What’s the impact on everyday American life? He explains, “See that Amazon package…? That’s come to you by the U.S. Navy.” The U.S. Navy keeps our sea lanes open worldwide so commerce can flow freely around the world to bring goods to our doorsteps.
Getting these stories across is essential because there’s also a challenge regarding how young Americans perceive military service. There’s a need to reach young people to help them understand that military life is an exciting, honorable, and personally rewarding choice. As a Cuban refugee shaped by his education in the New York Public schools and the U.S. Naval Academy, Secretary Del Toro is a firm believer in the opportunities provided in the United States. He underscored the personal impact, noting, “I don’t know where I’d be if not for the Navy. And there’s endless stories like that. It’s the great thing about this country. It doesn’t matter where you come from; as long as you work hard, study hard, there’s no limit to what you can accomplish.” We want young Americans not just to hear the stories but to start to see what a life of service with the U.S. Navy could do for them, too. He cites the pandemic as creating a disconnect, noting youth “have been isolated, suffering from depression the past few years, so we all need to work together to help make them stronger.”
The Secretary remains optimistic, however, and cites the work of the Museum as important to address these challenges. The Museum does more than just bring the storied past of Constitution to life; it actively connects people to today’s men and women of the U.S. Navy, establishing a personal context and humanizing the work. By engaging people of all ages and backgrounds so they can understand the value of service and see themselves in uniform, he acknowledges the Museum, noting, “We look to our wake to help navigate our course. This great museum fuels that mission with exhibits, technologies, and stories.” As we move forward, sharing these stories in new, engaging, and meaningful ways will further deepen the connection and propel our country’s future. Engaging people, he added, “So every American can see what the United States Navy and Marine Corps have done to protect them throughout the centuries and what they continue to do today, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 247 years strong.”
Following the remarks and discussion, the Museum held a reception where USS Constitution Museum President Anne Grimes Rand presented Secretary Del Toro with a commemorative USS Constitution medallion made from copper recycled from “Old Ironsides” during restoration, as well as the book, Men of Iron, written by Museum researchers to highlight and bring to life the lives of ordinary men that fought under extraordinary circumstances as crew of Constitution during the War of 1812.
About the USS Constitution Museum
The USS Constitution Museum serves as the memory and educational voice of USS Constitution by offering award-winning exhibits where all ages can have fun while learning and exploring history together. The Museum’s mission is to engage visitors in the story of Constitution to spark excitement about maritime heritage, naval service, and the American experience. The Museum is open seven days a week with a pay-what-you-wish admission policy, and the Virtual Museum is open 24/7. The USS Constitution Museum is a 2022 winner in USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice in the “Best History Museum” category and Boston Parents Paper’s Family Favorites in the “Historic Sites & Tours” and “Museums & Attractions” categories. For more information, visit usscm.org.