Year of the Coast Guard celebrated at the Navy Memorial

The Coast Guard and Navy Ceremonial Honor Guards present the colors at the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., April 12, 2014. This year the Navy Memorial will be commemorating the year of the Coast Guard. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

The Coast Guard and Navy Ceremonial Honor Guards present the colors at the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., April 12, 2014. This year the Navy Memorial will be commemorating the Year of the Coast Guard. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Written by Lt. Cmdr. Pride Sanders

Continuing a tradition passed down through generations of mariners and navies, the U.S. Navy Memorial’s 23rd Annual Blessing of the Fleets took place on Saturday, April 12, in Washington, D.C., in front of a crowd of hundreds on Pennsylvania Ave.

The event, which kicked off the Navy Memorial’s Year of the Coast Guard, was suffused with unique Coast Guard elements that resonated service pride and patriotism.

A member of the Coast Guard Honor Guard pours water from the seven seas and Great Lakes into a fountain at the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., April 12, 2014. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Seaman Sherri Helgoe of the Coast Guard Honor Guard pours water from the seven seas and Great Lakes into a fountain at the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., April 12, 2014. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

The blessing of the fleet ritual is intended to safeguard crews and ships from the danger of the seas through a blessing given by a clergyman at the water’s edge. This year’s clergyman was the Coast Guard Atlantic Area Chaplain Capt. Dennis Young, from the U. S. Navy Chaplain Corps.

During the ceremony, members of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guards fanned out across the outdoor plaza’s “Granite Sea” to pour water from the seven seas and Great Lakes into the surrounding fountains, charging them to life and welcoming the spring season.

The water was collected by more than 100 Coast Guard units from the lakes, rivers, seas, bays and oceans they navigate.

During his keynote speech, Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Bob Papp surprised everyone in attendance with one more vial of water that has special significance to every Coast Guardsman. The water was taken from the waters off the island of Nevis in the British West Indies, near the birthplace of the Coast Guard’s founding father, Alexander Hamilton.

Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Bob Papp cuts the ribbon to officially open the Navy Memorial's Year of the Coast Guard exhibit in Washington, D.C., April 11, 2014,  The exhibit will focus educational efforts on highlighting the Coast Guard’s service, missions, assets, and people. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Bob Papp cuts the ribbon to officially open the Navy Memorial’s Year of the Coast Guard exhibit in Washington, D.C., April 11, 2014.  The exhibit will focus educational efforts on highlighting the Coast Guard’s service, missions, assets, and people. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

The centerpiece of the Navy Memorial’s Year of the Coast Guard is an exhibit that introduces visitors to the service’s current missions and its long and rich history.The memorial’s museum area has been transformed into a treasure trove of Coast Guard history that includes historical photographs and original artwork, uniforms, recruiting posters from military collections, and other rare artifacts.Throughout the year, the Navy Memorial will focus a large part of its educational efforts on highlighting the Coast Guard’s service, missions, assets, and people. The exhibit will be in place through March 2015.

To learn more about the U.S. Navy Memorial and follow Year of the Coast Guard activities, you can call (202) 737-2300 or visit www.navymemorial.org for more information.

Petty Officer 1st Class Megan Weikleenget sings during a Coast Guard Band performance following the Blessing of the Fleet Ceremony at the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., April 12, 2014.  Courtesy photo by Cody Kelley.

Petty Officer 1st Class Megan Weikleenget sings during a Coast Guard Band performance following the Blessing of the Fleets Ceremony at the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., April 12, 2014. Courtesy photo by Cody Kelley.

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