NEW BERN, N.C. --
Food, drinks, birthday cake, dancing and camaraderie filled the extravagantly-decorated convention center in New Bern, as United States Navy sailors aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune celebrated their 237th birthday Oct. 20.
Sailors and Marines starting packing the large dining area at approximately 5 p.m. as couples took photos to commemorate the occasion, found their tables and caught up with friends. The ceremony commenced at approximately 7:30 p.m.
This particular Navy Ball had a large emphasis on the history of the War of 1812 in its 200-year anniversary. The Navy fought in many decisive battles in the war and played an important role in the United States’ ability to effectively fight the British naval forces.
Before the guest speaker retired Master Chief James T. Brawley gave his remarks, there was a presentation about the War of 1812, where specific sailors dressed up in old battle uniforms and gave narrations of some of the important battles of the war, including the Battles of New Orleans and Lake Erie.
The Battle of New Orleans was important in the war because of the position of the city. While it was a great land victory for American forces, the Navy also played a vital role in warding off British ships, even though the United States was outnumbered.
The Battle of Lake Erie was also a Navy victory celebrated during the ball. British forces initially seized control of the Great Lake at the onset of the war, but eventually American forces defeated Britain’s Royal Navy, even though America was again outnumbered. The win gave the United States control for the rest of the war, and it allowed them to once again control Detroit and win the Battle of Thames with the vital location of the lake.
After the impressive presentation of the war, Brawley was introduced.
He began his 24-year Navy career in 1985 when he attended recruit training in Great Lakes, Ill. He worked in many different facets, starting as a deck seaman and then serving as a corpsman at the School of Infantry - West in Camp Pendleton, Calif. He later deployed in 1990 with 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company as one of the first units sent to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Desert Shield. This, and many other accolades, made him a popular choice to speak at the birthday celebration.
Brawley spoke about his career in the Navy and the amount of respect he has for sailors all over the world.
“Once you become a sailor, you’re always a sailor,” said Brawley. “It means you belong to an exclusive fraternity. On a daily basis, most sailors don’t think of it that way, but it’s true. We belong to a service with a great maritime history which helped shaped the United States we know today.”
The night of festivities continued with the cutting of the cake and dancing. By all accounts, it was a great occasion to celebrate the 237th year of the Navy’s existence.