22 December 2011

War of 1812 Bicentennial Commemoration Update

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


s said...

Admiral, I enjoyed reading the exchange between Secretary Hamilton and COMO Rodgers, and hope you have more to post in the future.

Anonymous said...

Sir, what I have read regarding the Commemoration of the War of 1812 is that it is supposed to be a vehicle used to re-introduce and educate the American people regarding the value of our great Navy. However, I see a disconnect between the stated intention and currently available schedule of events. For example, in Norfolk, there are sailors participating in a sand soccer tournament, shopping at the Williamsburg outlet mall and going to Busch Gardens. I see little effort toward educating/exciting children (future recruits and tax payers) or targeted engagement with civic and community leaders who may not be familar with the Navy mission. In my estimation, the Blue Angels, ship visits and static displays falls short on stirring the imagination and long term support of the public. Yet that appears to be the centerpiece of the engagement. Also, the schedule has balls and receptions that do not include the general public. One could easily be left with the impression that this is simply the "Navy throwing a party for the Navy at tax payers expense". I request your help in understanding how this 3 year long Commemoration is going to connect with the American people and shape their long term support of the Navy. VR

ADM J. C. Harvey, Jr USN said...

I appreciate your candid feedback, and would like to assure you that we’re not just throwing a party for ourselves. Much like the Centennial of Naval Aviation last year, the bicentennial of the War of 1812 provides a unique opportunity to utilize existing Air Shows, Navy Fleet Weeks and Navy Weeks with a synchronized national message to the public. And while this is a 3-year commemoration, the majority of the events (and resources expended) will occur in the first year.

I believe making our ships available for public tours is indeed educational and exciting for young adults (future recruits). In fact, I’m confident that the majority of our taxpayers have never had the opportunity to see a Navy warship in person, let alone actually board one and interact with her crew. It’s a breathtaking experience to feel our jets screaming overhead and see our ships manned with our Sailors in uniform, and I believe it’s that “up close and personal” contact that truly makes a lasting impression on a person. I know I’m still inspired each time I see it, and I’ve been doing this for a very long time!

In addition to air shows and ship visits, we’ve developed an outreach program through a variety of venues. Our K-8 education program asailorslifeforme.org won the bronze star for education excellence and was developed with the National Endowment for the Humanities and the USS CONSTITUTION Museum. Our 9-12 educational program will be unveiled next month. I acknowledge your point about events that do not include the general public but many of those private events are hosted by partner organizations to which the US Navy and foreign navies are invited. I want to be clear that our Navy is not hosting any private parties at the taxpayer’s expense.

Now, the final point I want to make is the key to success in all these events is the interaction between our Sailors and the general public. We can demonstrate to the taxpayers the great capabilities of our Navy platforms and weapons systems, but I truly believe that it’s our Sailors who will ultimately inspire the public and show the true value of our Navy. It is for that reason that I place great value on getting our Sailors involved with the public (on and off their ships) during Navy and Fleet Weeks. No one represents our Navy better than the Sailors who wear the uniform each and every day.
All the best, JCHjr

SIFW said...

Yes I agree, the best way to explain to the public what the Navy is all about is though the brave men and women that serve. Here in Staten Island New York we have been host ing Fleet Week for the past 20 years and one of the greatest moments is when I see a youngster touring a ship and asking the crew members questions.In the past we have hosted school tours for over 6,000 students each and every Fleet Week .We have a sailor's mailbox in which the school children write letters and we deliver them to the ships daily. Often the return letters are hung in the school lobby for all the students and parents to view. After hosting this event for over 20 years, we are proud to say many of the military members of our community attribute the ship visit during Fleet Week from their school days as their first introduction to what military service is really all about. This year we are are expecting close to 7,500 students from the tri state area to tour the ships along with Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops. They will write letters, make banners, bake cookies and eat meals and talk with the wonderful crew members that visit our shores.
Donna Cutugno
Staten Island Fleet Week Inc.