With the War of 1812 Bicentennial quickly approaching, I want to give you a brief update on our Navy’s commemoration program and then share a document with you I recently received from a member of my staff.
The War of 1812 Commemoration program is on track and we’re making good progress. The Naval History & Heritage Command (NHHC) did an excellent job building the commemoration program and putting all the pieces in place over the past two years to get us where we are today. Fleet Forces now has the lead (with NHHC support) and we’ll be executing a very robust program of events.
Our Navy has partnered with many cities and communities across the nation as well as national and international non-profit organizations such as Operation Sail (OpSail), the Navy League, the Naval Historical Foundation, and the International Council of Air Shows (ICAS), to commemorate our nation’s “second war of independence.” There will be celebrations in many cities across our nation with “Signature Events” in New York, Baltimore, Norfolk, New Orleans, Boston, Chicago, and Cleveland. The Signature Events are the largest of the planned events and will include aviation displays, aerial demonstration by our Navy’s Blue Angels and Leap Frogs (our Navy’s parachute team), participation from U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and foreign Naval ships, as well as some of the world’s largest and most impressive Tall Ships.
For those of you in the Hampton Roads area, our Norfolk commemoration will take place next June and there will be plenty to see and do. Virginia Beach will host the event’s air show with our Blue Angels on 2-3 June, and Norfolk and the Port of Hampton Roads will host our Navy and foreign military ships as well as the OpSail flotilla of Tall Ships from 6-12 June 2012 in conjunction with Norfolk’s annual Harborfest celebration. Our Navy has been working very closely with the region to coordinate these events and I’m certain you will not be disappointed.
You can stay up to date with all the War of 1812 events by checking the commemoration website at www.ourflagwasstillthere.org.
Finally, attached is a transcript of correspondence between Secretary of the Navy Paul Hamilton and Commodore John Rodgers (the first of many Naval officers from the famed Rodgers dynasty) shortly before the Congress declared war on Great Britain. The dialogue, particularly from Rodgers, gives a good sense of what they were thinking (strategically and tactically) at the onset of the war. Rodgers, the battle-hardened veteran of the First Barbary War, was of course supremely confident in our small Navy’s ability to outthink and defeat the much larger British Navy. In fact, despite the overwhelming odds against our Navy, our Sailors and Officers remained confident and determined to win throughout the entire war (and I truly believe that made the difference!). As I read the document, I realized not much has changed over the years; our Sailors today are just as confident, skilled, and have the same fighting spirit as the many who have served before us. All the best, JCHjr