Naval History -- 06/14/01
b June is an important month in U.S. naval history.

There were several historic events in June and I had intended to have comments on each of them as the anniversary date arrived, but I have just been too pressed for time lately and have failed to hit the target dates with an appropriate entry.

June begins with the battle that cost Captain James Lawrence his life, a naval battle during the War of 1812, just off Boston harbor, where a mortally wounded Captain Lawrence entreated his crew "Don't give up the ship!" A few months later his friend, Oliver Hazzard Perry (a Rhode Islander from the town in which I now reside) flew a battle flag with that motto on his ship, the Lawrence, as he won a victory over the British. (Yes, it does fascinate me, but I have no reason to believe that I am in anyway related other than a coincidence of names.)

And then there was D-Day, the Allied invasion of Europe in World War II, the landings on Omaha Beach and Utah Beach. My father was in the second wave ashore on Utah Beach, horrible bloody combat, a living nightmare.

This week brought the anniversary of two historical events that deeply entwine Rhode Island in U.S. naval history. Navy Days are being celebrated to mark the beginning of the U.S. Navy with the official sanctioning of a warship as the Rhode Island Navy, a ship renamed the Providence. It would be the seed that would grow into the U.S. Navy. (Rhode Island was the first of the colonies to declare war on the British government... and the last of the thirteen original states to agree to approve the Constitution.)

The other Rhode Island naval event was the capture and burning of the British revenue sloop the Gaspee, an act of rebellion far preceeding the Boston Tea Party. Of course, since a significant number of colonial Rhode Island's seamen took part in smuggling goods (evading royal taxes), one might question some of the motives behind this action.

So there are three or four entries I might have written... and this weekend brings the annual Quonsett Point Air Show. (Yes, the quonsett hut got its name from a Rhode Island locale.) It is a great show... we had seemed to be in a pattern of going on even-numbered years, but we missed it last year (too much high school graduation-related activities) and I don't think I'm going to make it there this year. Jennifer is the aviation nut in this house and given her third shift work schedule and the lack of sleep that has been wearing her down this week, I'd bet that she will opt to sleep when she gets home from work Saturday morning.

Maybe I'll have a little more time next June -- I'm swamped right now with a heavy work schedule, trying to rewrite/update a course and also get caught up with some new releases of a number of software products that I need to know all about.

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