Sailors assigned to USS Constitution will be marching in the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C., May 28.
The parade celebrates all who have served in uniform, from the American Revolution to Operation Iraqi Freedom, and seeks to educate the public about the meaning of this national holiday.
“It is an honor to be able to march in the nation’s Memorial Day Parade,” said Cmdr. Matt Bonner, Constitution’s 72nd commanding officer. “It is a great way for those who serve today to remember the people that have gone before us to defend our country. This year is especially symbolic for Constitution and her crew as we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 and the many gallant victories she earned keeping the seas free.”
Presented by the American Veterans Center, the parade is held annually and is an opportunity for thousands of Americans to come together and honor those who have sacrificed on behalf of the United States.
The parade will showcase nearly 200 elements, including marching bands, active-duty and retired military units, youth groups and parade floats, as well as hundreds of veterans from World War II, Korea War, Vietnam War, Operation Desert Storm, and Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
“To be able to march in a parade with so many of my fellow service members is both a privilege and an honor,” said Chief Culinary Specialist (SW) Brian Pettee, Constitution’s officer in charge for the event. “Shaking hands, waving and interacting with the spectators makes this an incredible experience to take part in.”
The National Memorial Day Parade will step off at approximately 2 p.m. at the corner of Constitution Avenue and 7th Street NW, and proceed west down Constitution, past the White House, ending at 17th Street at approximately 4 p.m.
Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Chuck Yeager will be the Grand Marshal for the parade. Buzz Aldrin, Gary Sinise, and Joe Mantegna will also be participating in the parade. Musical performances will be provided by 2012 Miss America Laura Kaeppeler, Kris Allen, G. Love and Angie Johnson.
Constitution is the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat and welcomes more than 500,000 visitors per year. She defended the sea lanes against threat from 1797 to 1855, much like the mission of today’s Navy. America’s Navy: Keeping the sea free for more than 200 years.
Constitution’s mission today is to offer community outreach and education about the ship’s history. Currently, her crew is planning to commemorate bicentennial of the War of 1812 through public demonstrations and educational activities at eight Navy weeks across the U.S. in 2012.
Naval Today Staff , May 28, 2012; Image: navy