The History of Navy Day
The Navy League of the United States organized the first Navy Day in 1922. October 27 was chosen as the date because it was the birthday of President Theodore Roosevelt. This is also the anniversary of a 1775 report issued by a special committee of the Continental Congress favoring the purchase of merchant ships as the foundation of an American Navy. President Roosevelt had been an Assistant Secretary of the Navy and supported a strong Navy as well as the idea of Navy Day.
Navy Day received particular attention from President Warren Harding. Harding wrote to the Secretary of the Navy Edwin Denby:
“Thank you for your note which brings assurance of the notable success which seems certain to attend the celebration of Navy Day on Friday, October 27, in commemoration of past and present services of the Navy. From our earliest national beginnings, the Navy has always been and deserved to be, an object of special pride to the American people. Its record is indeed one to inspire such sentiments, and I am very sure that such a commemoration as is planned will be a timely reminder.”
In 1949, Department of Defense Secretary, Louis A. Johnson, directed that the United States Navy’s participation occur on Armed Forces Day in May, although, as a civilian organization, the Navy League was not affected by this directive and continued to organize Navy Day celebrations as before.
It was then in the 1970s that the “birthday” of the Continental Navy was found to be October 13, 1775, and CNO Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt worked with the Navy League to define October 13 as the new date of Navy Day; however, Navy Day in the United States remains largely recognized as October 27.
The United States Navy (USN) is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is currently the largest, most powerful navy in the world, with the highest combined battle fleet tonnage. The service has over 340,000 personnel on active duty and more than 71,000 in the Navy Reserve.