The U.S. Navy turns 242 years-old today. On October 13, 1775, the Continental Congress commissioned two ships, each with eighty sailors, “for intercepting such transports as may be laden with warlike stores and other supplies for our enemies.” The foe at the time was Great Britain, whose navy ruled the seas. By the end of the Revolutionary War, the Continental Navy had grown to about fifty ships. In 1789, the U.S. Constitution guaranteed the navy’s future by granting Congress the power “To provide and maintain a navy.”
George Washington once said that “as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive—and with it, everything honorable and glorious.” Those words are even more appropriate in the twenty-first century when U.S. interests span the globe. To serve and protect those interests the U.S. Navy today has 279 deployable ships, more than 3,700 operational aircraft, 324,460 active duty personnel, 106,622 reserve personnel, and more than 260,000 civilian employees.
John F. Kennedy was the first navy veteran to be elected president. But five of the next six presidents also served in the navy: Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush. Well-known navy veterans include baseball hall-of-famers Yogi Berra and Stan Musial, basketball hall-of-famers David Robinson and John Wooden, football hall-of-famer Roger Staubach, former Tonight Show host Johnny Carson, actor Humphrey Bogart, and astronaut Neil Armstrong.
A tip of the TWE cap to all the men and women who have worn the uniform of the U.S. Navy.
Corey Cooper assisted in the preparation of this post.