USS Constitution

USS CONSTITUTION

USS Constitution makes her annual 4th of July turnaround cruise in Boston Harbor. in 2002. U.S. Navy photo by Journalist Seaman Joe Burgess.

USS Constitution got underway in Boston Harbor on June 4 to honor the first responders to the events surrounding the Boston Marathon bombings and to commemorate the 71st anniversary of the Battle of Midway, which took place from June 4-6, 1942.

Approximately 300 guests accompanied the 215-year-old Constitution on its first scheduled underway of 2013, including first responders from the FBI, City of Boston Fire, and Police Departments, Massachusetts State Police Department, MBTA Police Department, Watertown Police Department, Massachusetts National Guard, and medical responders from Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston EMS, and Boston Medical Center.

“The Navy has always been America’s ‘away team’, as demonstrated at the Battle of Midway,” said Cmdr. Matt Bonner, Constitution’s 72nd commanding officer in a press release. “The response to the tragic events of April 15 demonstrated the tenacity, effectiveness and care of Boston’s ‘home team’, and this event allows us to thank and honor those heroic men and women who do so much every day to keep us safe.”

The ship got underway at 10 a.m. and participated in a wreath-laying ceremony to commemorate the Battle of Midway and the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, along with a 21-gun salute off Fort Independence on Castle Island in South Boston. Constitution Sailors also conducted an additional 17-gun salute near U.S. Coast Guard Base Boston prior to the ship’s 12:30 p.m. return to its pier at Charlestown Navy Yard.

The Battle of Midway is often cited as the turning point of the war in the Pacific during World War II. The U.S. Navy lost one aircraft carrier (USS Yorktown) but sank all four Japanese aircraft carriers that had also been involved in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

USS Constitution, the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat, actively defended sea lanes against global threats from 1797 to 1855. Now a featured attraction on Boston’s Freedom Trail, Constitution and her crew of U.S. Navy Sailors offer community outreach and education about the ship’s history to more than 500,000 visitors each year.