It’s a big week for the U.S. Navy, on happy and somber notes.
The seafaring branch of the military celebrated its birthday today, 236 years after the establishment of the Continental Navy in 1775. It was officially created when Congress authorized two vessels to be outfitted with guns to intercept British ships and generally harass any English maritime activity.
The Navy came of age in the fight against piracy off the Barbary Coast and showed American military dominance with the tour of the Great White Fleet at the dawn of the 20th century. And since their creation, the U.S. Navy SEALS have proven their worth time and again.
Today, the Navy is a humanitarian force as much as it’s a force of war. Her ships routinely assist other nations in times of crisis, most recently after natural disasters in Haiti and Japan.
But this week also carries a dark spot on the Navy’s calendar. On Oct. 11, 2000, the USS Cole was attacked by suicide bombers while in port in Yemen. Seventeen sailors were killed and 39 wounded in the explosion. The ship recovered and remains in service today.
While we celebrate the U.S. Navy this week, it’s important to remember their mission to win wars, deter aggression, and maintain freedom of the seas. From engagement of British vessels during the Revolutionary War to bringing justice to Osama bin Laden, the U.S. Navy has done all three at a high cost of American lives. Today we celebrate them.