“A Strenuous Life” Inspiration to Exercise from Navy History

by LT E.J.A. Prevoznak, National Museum of the American Sailor Volunteer

New year, new you, as they say, and one of the most popular ways to find a “new you” is by resolving to get into better physical shape. The ushering in of the new year has many hoping they can lose weight, gain muscle, and perhaps even participate in a physical fitness or sporting competition. However, numerous studies show most people who make health and fitness-oriented resolutions quit before February 1. Fitness app Strava has dubbed January 17 “Quitter’s Day.”1 Other reports state the best time to buy fitness equipment is in February because most fitness resolutions have failed, and remaining equipment is put on steep discount.2 Many people fail because they do not strive to live a “strenuous life” as Theodore Roosevelt famously declared.3 Teddy’s quote underscores an important element that many fitness resolutions lack – consistency to inspire them throughout the year. For sailors, failing to maintain their fitness resolutions can come with a steep price, which is why sailors make great inspiration for those seeking to turn around their physical fitness.

Continue reading

USS Sanctuary: An Experiment in Integration

by Tricia Menke, Curator of Education at the National Museum of the American Sailor

When President Harry S. Truman signed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act into effect on June 12, 1948, it did not automatically translate into ‘smooth sailing’ for women in the United States Navy. Despite the act’s signing, the Navy continued to segregate men and women, both during training and while in service. For many female sailors in the post-World War II era, the fight for equal opportunity remained. In perhaps the most obvious instance of inequality, it would be an additional two decades before women were allowed to serve at sea, side-by-side with their male shipmates.

Continue reading

A Life of Valor: The Navy’s Most Decorated Enlisted Sailor

by Tricia Menke, NMAS Curator of Education

The stories of sailors from the American Revolution to today consistently highlight the  Navy’s core values of honor, courage, and commitment. in the s. Yet perhaps no sailor embodies these ideals more fully than Boatswain’s Mate First Class James Elliot “Willie” Williams. Over the course of Williams’ almost twenty-year career, he continuously demonstrated the leadership and dedication necessary to become the most decorated enlisted sailor in Navy history.

Continue reading

Beyond the Lens

by Faith Thrun, NMAS 2021 Collections Intern

As the saying goes, a photograph is worth a thousand words, but what happens when you have an entire archive filled with photographs from dozens of people and time periods? The stories contained in the photographs at the National Museum of the American Sailor tell a range of stories from individuals that combine to tell the collective experience of the enlisted sailor. Although the main subjects are the protagonists of these stories, it is also important to look at the context behind them as well. These details are what build the stories of the people in them and who took them. 

Continue reading

Blood Chits: Say What Now?

By Kelly Duffy, National Museum of the American Sailor Contract Curator

What exactly is a blood chit? The term “blood chit” comes from “chit”, British slang for a note, and “blood” possibly comes from the blood downed pilots might have spilled in front of confused foreign civilians. Simply put, blood chits are notes written in local languages meant to be presented to any civilian who might be able to help a lost service member in foreign territory. Typically, blood chits are sewn into the back of flight vests, jackets, and suits, making them easy to carry and find. Continue reading

New Year’s Deck Log Poems: What Rhymes with Lovell?

By Dan Smaczny, National Museum of the American Sailor Contract Curator

U.S. Navy vessels record events like inspections, speed changes, and their location in a chronological manner in official deck logs. Logs are sent to the Naval Historical Center in Washington, D.C. and stored for thirty years before being transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration. Deck logs are usually written in a matter-of-fact style with one exception, the first deck log entry of the New Year.

Continue reading