Passed down through generations of mariners and navies, the U.S. Navy Memorial’s 23rd annual Blessing of the Fleets will take place on Saturday, April 12, 2014 from 1:00-5:00 pm. A popular attraction during the National Cherry Blossom Festival—the largest springtime festival in the nation—this event is free and open to the public immediately following the Cherry Blossom Festival Parade.
The ‘Blessing of the Fleets’ 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. During the Navy Memorial’s ceremony, sailors from the U.S. Navy’s Ceremonial Guard proceed 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.
This year, Navy Memorial is honored to have Admiral Robert J. Papp, Jr., USCG, Commandant of the Coast Guard, as guest speaker. Also special this year, Coast Guard cutters and stations around the globe have sent in water that will be added to the fountains during the ritual.
Following the sacred ceremony, culinary professionals from the White House Mess will prepare and serve navy bean soup to visitors in the adjacent Naval Heritage Center. Guests are also invited to enjoy the spring weather with an outdoor concert by the US Coast Guard Band on Memorial Plaza.
This year’s Blessing of the Fleets marks the launch of the U.S. Navy Memorial’s “Year of the Coast Guard” exhibit and special programming. Fascinating historical photographs and original artwork, uniforms, recruiting posters from military collections, and other rare artifacts will be on display in the Naval Heritage Center through March 2015. The Navy Memorial will present a series of events (TBA), including wreath laying ceremonies, lectures, book signings and symposia in honor of the Coast Guard and their service to our nation.
About the United States Navy Memorial
Conveniently located on Pennsylvania Avenue – halfway between the White House and the Capitol, the United States Navy Memorial provides a living tribute to Navy people and a place for them to gather and celebrate their service. The outdoor plaza features a “Granite Sea” map of the world, towering masts with signal flags, fountain pools and waterfalls and The Lone Sailor© statue. Adjacent to the plaza is the Naval Heritage Center, where visitors can find educational displays about the contributions of the men and women of the Sea Services (Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine). Also housed in the Naval Heritage Center is the Navy Log – the online place for Navy people to stay connected with each other, celebrate their service and preserve the memories of their service. There, Navy veterans can build a record of their service online. Call (202) 737-2300 or visit www.navymemorial.org for more information.