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OLD IRONSIOES

Old ships need lots of good fri ends to keep them afloat.

Wooden ships, in particular, are perishable, just like fruit and vegetables.

The wood in the frames and planks will rot if you don’t rake care of them properly.

That is just what was happening to one of our most famous historic navy ships, USS Constitution, in 1830 and again in 1924.

USS Constitution was one of the first big warships that the United States built after the American Revolution.

She patrolled the coast of northern Africa during the Barbary Wars,

bur it was during the War of 181 2 with Great Britain that she became really famous. She sank or captured four big British warships, including the NAYAJ.

HIS’mlllCA.L CENTER “Old Ironsides” sank HMS Guerriere in 1812. 38-gun British frigate HMS Guerriere.

Ir was during this battle on 19 August 1812 that she was nicknamed “Old Ironsides,” when her crew watched as the enemy’s cannonballs bounced off her wooden hull as if it was made of iron.

After the War of 18 12 was over, Constitution was sent on other assignments until 1830, when the navy decided that the ship was in bad shape and either needed a lot of repairs or to be scrapped.

A lot of the people that heard about this decision were greatly saddened at the thought of losing such an imponam and heroic ship.

Apoet named Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote his feelings about the ship in a poem and called it “O ld Ironsides.”

This poem was published in newspapers across the country and alerted more and more people about what was happening to their beloved ship.

People began to demand that the ship be saved and the Navy Department agreed with them.

This was not rhe only time “Old Ironsides” was threatened by rot and decay.

In 1924, she had once again deteriorated to the point that she needed to be hauled out of the water and have a lot of her wooden hull repaired and replaced.

This rime, it was schoolchildren across the country who came to the ship’s rescue.

They began a “pennies campaign.” Of the $250,000 donated by private citizens across the United Stares, $ 148,000 of it came from the kids who had saved their pennies and sent it to the ship.

Today, USS Constitution is stil l a commissioned US Navy ship and is berthed in Boston. She doesn’t fi ght in battles anymore, bur she is used as a museum ship, for navy.

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