Stamp honors ex-Navy warship

Constellation marks its 150th anniversary

July 01, 2004|By Malena Amusa | Malena Amusa,SUN STAFF

Baltimore's landmark Constellation set sail on a new sea yesterday -- through America's post offices, with the issuance of a stamp commemorating its 150th anniversary.

The "sailabration" in the Inner Harbor amphitheater was one of many events this year commemorating the launch of the sloop of war, the last all-sail warship built by the U.S. Navy.

The ship -- which draws visitors from all over the world to its Inner Harbor berth -- helped fight the U.S.-African slave trade and deliver food to Ireland during its potato famine, Constellation Museum representatives said.

Mayor Martin O'Malley said he hopes the stamp attracts more attention to Baltimore's history.

"I love events that highlight the history of our city," O'Malley said. The ship is symbolic of "the Afro-Celtic synergy that's going on in our city today."

Known as the last Civil War-era naval ship still afloat, the Constellation was an easy pick out of thousands of historic pieces, people and ideas submitted to the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee for possible commemoration, Deputy Postmaster General John Nolan said.

"Of all the ships here [at the harbor], the Constellation is the finest; it's the flagship of what a tall ship should be," Nolan said. "Since 1854, the name Constellation has stood for valor on the high seas, for triumph in the face of adversity, and for our nation's commitment to freedom around the world."

Stamp collectors, Navy veterans and other Constellation fans could buy the stamp before its national release today. Among them was one Baltimore resident with a wide collection of pictures and articles from her husband's great-uncle's service in the Navy more than 100 years ago.

"It's history, and history speaks for itself," said Helene Penn. She encouraged young people to board the Constellation and see for themselves the ways the Navy has changed lives.

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