The U.S. Navy celebrates its birthday on October 13 every year with festivities all across the country. Learn how you can safely celebrate the Navy birthday — and veterans who developed service-related illnesses like mesothelioma — this year.
Happy Birthday U.S. Navy: Victory at Sea
October 13, 2020, marks the U.S. Navy’s 245th birthday. The central theme this year is “Victory at Sea” to remember and honor the U.S. Navy’s battle during World War II in what is known as the Pacific Theater.
In this theater, Imperial Japanese forces fought mostly with the Navy, Marine Corps, and the Army, along with several Allies. Tens of thousands of Navy service members gave their lives to protect America during the conflict.
Additionally, many U.S. Navy veterans now suffer from asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma, due to the heavy use of asbestos in ships, vehicles, and bases during World War II and beyond.
Asbestos was heavily used by the Navy to keep ships fireproof. The Navy — and all other branches of the U.S. military — did not know asbestos-based products were dangerous for decades since manufacturers hid the health risks.
If you or someone you love served, take part in the Navy birthday celebrations this year. By doing so, you can honor those who have passed and celebrate the history and victories of the Navy.
Proud History of the U.S. Navy
The Navy was established during the Revolutionary War on October 13, 1775, as the “Continental Navy.” Its formation was authorized by Continental Congress to deploy two armed vessels charged with finding the British Army’s munitions ships.
Although some were convinced that a standing navy was “the maddest idea in the world,” the 11-day debate was won by navalists who wanted to add another branch of defense to the newly created Continental Army.
Throughout the Revolutionary War, the U.S. Navy had roughly 50 ships, with about 20 warships active at maximum strength. Today, the U.S. Navy is the largest in the world with 330,000 active-duty personnel, 100,000 sailors on reserve, and 290 battleships.
Interesting Facts About the U.S. Navy
- The U.S. Navy’s birthday was first recognized by Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt in 1972.
- It is not to be confused with Navy Day, which was formed in 1922 to recognize naval service and is celebrated on October 27.
- The U.S. Navy used more asbestos-containing products than any other military branch. Nearly every Navy ship made between the 1930s and 1980s contained tons of asbestos.
- It is our 2nd naval fleet after the Continental Navy was disbanded and its ships sold. The increase of pirates caused President George Washington to sign the Naval Act of 1794 creating a permanent U.S. Navy.
- In the 1942 Battle of Midway, the U.S. Navy defeated an attacking fleet of Japanese carriers. This marked a turning point in World War II and was described by one military historian as “the most stunning and decisive blow in the history of naval warfare.”
Celebrating the 2020 U.S. Navy Birthday
Active forces, reservists, veterans, and family members can all participate in U.S. Navy birthday festivities. Each year, the CNO encourages a Navy-wide celebration of the occasion.
A common event to mark the day is the U.S. Navy Birthday Ball.
At the U.S. Navy Birthday Ball, the following events occur:
- Bell ringing
- Cake cutting
- Reading of the CNO birthday message
- Singing of “Anchors Aweigh”
Several U.S. Navy Birthday Balls are typically held in-person at different locations throughout the country, such as Washington, D.C., and Florida. However, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has turned the 2020 Navy Birthday Balls into online celebrations. This is to keep Navy veterans with mesothelioma and other health conditions safe.
Other than the ball, the Navy Birthday is marked by several other events at local, state, and national levels.
Other ways to celebrate the U.S. Navy birthday include:
- Fitness events
- Navy Band performances
- Navy Color Guard
- Navy heritage celebrations
- Social media activity
- Tours of Navy bases and ships
Connect with local Navy branches or veterans organizations to see if any of these events are still taking place. If they are, make sure they are following strict coronavirus safety guidelines before participating.
How to Celebrate the Navy Birthday During COVID-19
Celebrating the U.S. Navy’s birthday in 2020 brings significant changes with the COVID-19 pandemic, especially since World War II veterans being honored this year may be at a higher risk of complications.
Anyone planning to celebrate this year’s U.S. Navy birthday should do so carefully.
Some ways to safely celebrate include:
- Displaying balloons
- Hanging a “Happy Birthday U.S. Navy” banner
- Creating a video or photo collage
- Baking a Navy-themed cake or a pie
- Creating a virtual Navy birthday party over Zoom or Skype with family members
- Planning a drive-by parade
Honoring U.S. Navy Veterans With Mesothelioma
The Navy’s birthday is an important time to pay tribute to Navy veterans. However, remember to support veterans with mesothelioma every day during their cancer battle.
You can honor Navy veterans with mesothelioma by:
- Spending time with them (digitally during COVID-19)
- Advocating for an asbestos ban
- Getting educated on mesothelioma and the risks of asbestos exposure
- Accessing resources available to veterans and their family (like VA benefits)
The Mesothelioma Cancer Network is proud to assist veterans with mesothelioma today and every day. We thank all Navy veterans for serving their country.