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USS Constitution to host Facebook Live July 4 celebration, fire 21-Gun Salute

USS Constitution is tugged through Boston Harbor to Fort Independence on Castle Island during Old Ironsides' underway commemorating Independence Day. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Casey Scoular)
May 26, 2020

To safely celebrate Independence Day during the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, USS Constitution is scheduled to host a series of presentations on July 4, using Facebook Live.

The full series of live events will run approximately three hours and will include a 21-gun salute, tours of the ship, climbing demonstrations, boarding pike drills, 19th-century gun drills, and a public trivia contest, giving viewers a chance to win one of 21 saluting battery rounds fired from the ship.

“July Fourth is one of our biggest events of the year, and we’re pulling out all the stops for this virtual celebration,” said Cmdr. John Benda, USS Constitution’s 76th commanding officer.

He added, “Our virtual tours have received an incredible response and opened our ship to new guests from around the country—even around the world—so we’re thrilled to be celebrating America’s birthday with all of these amazing supporters.”

The event will be hosted by the ship’s Facebook page:

Last year, USS Constitution went underway in Boston Harbor on July 4 and used its social media platforms to run a public lottery; winners received a spot to come aboard for the cruise.

This year, the risks and delays connected to COVID-19 prevent USS Constitution from going underway as part of its July 4 celebration.

USS Constitution closed to public visitation to reduce exposure to COVID-19 on March 14.

Since that date, the crew began offering virtual tours and has conducted more than 60 virtual tours on Facebook Live, which have received more than 1.2 million views.

At this time, no Sailors assigned to USS Constitution have tested positive for COVID-19, and USS Constitution is following all preventative guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Department of the Defense and Navy leadership.

USS Constitution, is the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat, and played a crucial role in the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812, actively defending sea lanes from 1797 to 1855.

During normal operations, the active-duty Sailors stationed aboard USS Constitution provide free tours and offer public visitation to more than 600,000 people a year as they support the ship’s mission of promoting the Navy’s history and maritime heritage and raising awareness of the importance of a sustained naval presence.

USS Constitution was undefeated in battle and destroyed or captured 33 opponents.

The ship earned the nickname of Old Ironsides during the war of 1812 when British cannonballs were seen bouncing off the ship’s wooden hull.

The Museum has also temporarily closed and is currently providing a hands-on, minds-on environment digitally during this time of physical distancing.

The USS Constitution Museum will offer special digital experiences for July 4, including videos and family-friendly activities where online visitors learn how to fold an American flag, fire a miniature cannon, and more; Information will be available on the Museum website.

The USS Constitution Museum serves as the memory and educational voice of USS Constitution by collecting, preserving, and interpreting the stories of “Old Ironsides” and those associated with her.

The Museum has also temporarily closed and is currently providing a hands-on, minds-on environment digitally during this time of physical distancing.

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This article was originally published by the US Navy.