On October 21, 2016, Professor Gregory Fried and his “Idea of America” class traveled to the USS Constitution Museum in Boston. The main exhibit is the USS Constitution – nicknamed “Old Ironsides” – which is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world, since its official launch in 1797.
The USS Constitution is an American icon, as it was one of the first commissioned ships of the United States Navy and named by George Washington after the Constitution of the United States.
The vessel has constantly been repaired and preserved since the year 1800, and provides students and tourists alike with a unique experience to witness and learn how the concepts of liberty and independence transformed the United States of America. Students were shown what it was like to live and work aboard the ship over 200 years ago. They also had the opportunity to witness some of the innovative technologies used on the ships of that time.
Student Humza Usman recalls:
The guide was telling us stories about individuals who were on these ships and how they got there. It really personalized the whole experience during the tour. Obviously the best part of the trip was going on the ship itself. It was really interesting to see the different parts of the ship and learn about how the crew worked every day.
Whereas the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution created an independent nation from the English empire, it was the American people that swore to fight and protect and uphold the values created by these transformative documents. Students signed their names into the new copper plates that will be fitted on to the USS Constitution’s hull during its renovation.
The USS Constitution is a staple of the early United States, marking its fresh beginning as world power. The USS Constitution and museum feature the outstanding features of American pride and nationalism, making the idea of America what it is today.
Submitted by John Burke, student reporter, class of 2018