Île Saint-Clément Museum presents an exhibition on the day of the Navy | Southern Maryland News Net
The Île Saint-Clément museum is currently hosting a special exhibition called “Marine Day”, featuring items from Navy Day and memorabilia from past Navy Day celebrations. The public is encouraged to visit the museum and see these unique artefacts on display thanks to a local collector. This special exhibition will run until June 6, 2021.
The Navy League of New York originally proposed that the official celebration of Navy Day be Oct. 27 in honor of the birthday of President Theodore Roosevelt, who was a navy enthusiast, promoter of maritime power and former Deputy Secretary of the Navy. Although not a national holiday, Navy Day was designed to give public recognition to naval service. In 1923 (the first year of Navy Day), more than 50 major cities participated, and the US Navy sent several ships to various port cities for the occasion. Shipyards, depots, ships and stations held open days for the public. During World War II, Navy activities were not open to the public, but after the war ended, Navy Day 1945 was a massive celebration, with President Harry S. Truman receiving the US fleet from back to New York Harbor.
As a result of the consolidation of the military services of the Department of Defense, Armed Forces Day was established in August 1949 to be celebrated on the third Saturday in May to honor Americans serving in each of the military branches. It was intended to replace the separate Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard Days. Navy Day was officially observed for the last time in 1949.
This special temporary exhibition contains many fascinating objects from the last days of the Navy. Most naval activities that the public could participate in included a printed brochure which usually contained a welcome message from the commander, a history of the activity, and a calendar of events. Brochures were usually created as part of the activity. On smaller vessels, this can result in a single mimeographed sheet bent as needed. On large ships and onshore activities, the brochure might look more like a glossy magazine.
Souvenirs “gifts” of the visit were produced in the various shops of industrial-type activities. Ashtrays and pin trays were very popular because they could be stamped from small pieces of metal, and unfortunately very few of them escaped the scrap collections of WWII. Some stores that made casts created tiny anvils. Those with towers turned out mini cups, ballot boxes, and bell-shaped paperweights. Miniature torpedoes came from certain ordering stations.
Several activities produced their own souvenir medals, key chains and store labels. Cocktail forks and bottle openers have been added to the list of store-made souvenir items. There were other unusual items such as the small file with the fragment of the quarter deck of the USS Missouri. Most of these keepsakes were embossed with self-identifying text, including the name of the activity, the store, were produced and the Navy Day event. Souvenirs were generally small, easy to make for low-cost stores, but sent a lasting reminder of the home of the US Navy with visitors.
For more information on the exhibit, please call the St. Clement’s Island Museum at 301-769-2222.
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