Next Presentation 

The Lexington Veterans’ Association under the auspices of the Friends of the COA will present their monthly program on Monday, May 13, 2019, at 1:15P.M., in the lower level meeting room at the Cary Memorial Library. 1875 Massachusetts Avenue. Open free to the public, come and enjoy coffee and refreshments along with friends and fellow veterans at 12:45 P.M. followed by our program at 1:15P.M.

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Old Ironsides - A Cherished National Symbol

Carl Herzog, is a maritime history instructor, professional sailor, and Public Historian, USS Constitution Museum, will trace the incredible maritime history of “Old Ironsides”. 


Launched in 1797 and today the Navy’s oldest commissioned warship, the USS Constitution has not only survived the long centuries, but has continually found ways to serve and be useful far beyond her original mission. She has served as a symbol of hope and pride to generations of Americans through some of our darkest hours. Her victories over the seemingly indomitable British Navy in the War of 1812 bolstered Americans' belief in their own Navy and their country.  

The first action for the USS Constitution occurred in the Caribbean in a quasi-war with France at the turn of the 19th century. France, who provided crucial support to the American colonies during the war, was still locked in a major war with England. The flourishing American merchant traders tried to trade neutrally with both England and France, but actually ended up in armed naval conflict with France for a couple of years.

The American Navy disbanded after the Revolution. Within 20 years, the new nation had developed a fleet of merchant vessels that sailed the globe, vulnerable to dangers on the high seas. The greatest threats were the pirates in the Barbary states along the North African coast who seized American ships and held them for tribute. Initially, the merchants and the nation agreed to pay the tributes, but public sentiment steadily grew to develop a Navy and mount a defense. Some sailors from the Constitution who were manning a captured pirate vessel became heroes when they and a crew from the USS Siren stole aboard the USS Philadelphia, which had been captured after running aground outside Tripoli Harbor, and set the ship afire to prevent it from being refloated and used by the Tripolitans.

The USS Constitution created her reputation by achieving several “impossible” victories over the British during the War of 1812: the frigate HMS Gurriere off the coast of Nova Scotia; HMS Java off the coast of Brazil; and HMS Cyane and HMS Levant off the coast of Madeira, defeating these latter two at once.

After war, the Constitution continued to defend merchant shipping with time out for major renovations until 1855. After moving around several east coast bases, she was brought home to Boston in 1897, where she remains to this day. She has undergone restorations in approximate 20-year intervals, the most noteworthy one in the 1920’s with pennies from schoolchildren nationwide. “In the midst of the Depression, the Government decided that America deserved to see what they had so generously contributed to rebuild”, says Herzog. “ Active duty sailors towed the Constitution from coast to coast, through the Panama Canal, allowing millions of Americans, seeking recreation and solace, to visit and walk her decks.”

“More than a century after she had made her mark, the USS Constitution continues to resonate with the broader public as a touchstone of national symbolism,” says Herzog. Carl Herzog is the Public Historian for the USS Constitution Museum. Prior to joining the museum, Carl served as a college maritime history instructor and sailed professionally for many years on board a variety of educational tall ships. 

He holds a 500-ton Ocean Master license from the United States Coast Guard, a M.A. in history from the University of Rhode Island, and is currently completing a PhD dissertation through UMass Amherst on colonial-era smuggling between New England and the West Indies. decisive Revolutionary War battles marked a turning point in the war when France decided that the Patriots could win and thus entered the conflict on the side of the Americans. 


June -  Presentation and Speaker

Muskets and Tomahawks - The Battles of Saratoga

Bob Lewis, Captain USNR retired, Naval Aviator, Patrol Plane Commander in aircraft carrier- later,         shore-based patrol planes.      


    It was 1777, two years into the American Revolution. While the Colonists were desperately seeking financial support from a reluctant France, the Britishconceived a daring plan to use three armies in a pincer movement to cut off and isolate New England from the rest of the colonies. This campaign failed utterly, which turned the tide of the war in America’s favor, and convinced the French that the Americans could actually win.

    Bob will analyze the Battles of Saratoga and describe battle plans gone wrong, starving troops, the brutal murder and scalping of a local beauty, and the bravery of American General Benedict Arnold as some of the elements that led to the American victories at Saratoga. 

    The British pincer movement called for General Burgoyne to move south from Montreal; General St. Leger to march eastward from Lake Ontario along the Mohawk River Valley; and General Howe to move northward from New York City, all planning to meet at Albany, New York. General Howe’s southern army never materialized as he chose instead to proceed to Philadelphia and capture that city, and, perhaps, the Continental Congress. General St. Leger’s force surrounded Fort Oriskany, but soon afterwards, hundreds of Iroquois Indian allies deserted, forcing St. Leger to abandon his planned march Eastward to meet Burgoyne at Albany. Only General Burgoyne’s troops remained to follow the original plan. Before the Battles at Saratoga, after capturing Fort Ticonderoga, Burgoyne’s army had continued south on Lake Champlain, then marched cross country to the

    Hudson River enroute to Albany where they encountered an American force in the First Battle of Saratoga. By now, the British supply lines were stretched thin and troops were starving. Burgoyne was forced to retreat. Things got worse over the next several days after the Second Battle of Saratoga, when Burgoyne’s Indian allies deserted and his supply lines completely deteriorated. Burgoyne surrendered his army on October 17, 1777. A few months later, the French began sending ships, troops and supplies to the newly-energized Colonial Army.

    Captain Bob Lewis spent seven years with the U.S. Navy as a Patrol Plane Commander, serving on the aircraft carriers WASP, INTREPID, and SARATOGA. As a Naval Reserve officer, he flew P-2s and P-3s and commanded his Naval Reserve unit. In his 30 years with the MITRE Corporation, he spent eight years in Germany at Headquarters, US Army Europe, helping to develop joint communication systems to integrate the Army, Air Force and Marines. He later returned to Germany to lead the communications engineering effort for an alternate command base in Romania. He serves on the Executive Committee of the Lexington Veterans Association.