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Don't Give Up The Ship Day

Don’t Give Up The Ship Day commemorates the enduring words alleged to have been uttered by Captain James Lawrence of the USS Chesapeake as his ship was being taken over by the British and he lay mortally wounded on June 1, 1813. Although Lawrence had orders not to engage in battle, he met the HMS Shannon close to the shores of Boston. The ensuing battle was the bloodiest frigate fight of the War of 1812, and the ship was lost to the British. Under normal circumstances Lawrence would have been held responsible for his defeat, but instead he died a hero and his words have lived on. The phrase became the unofficial motto of the Navy, and two months after the Chesapeake’s loss, the USS Lawrence set sail in its captain’s honor. The Captain of the Lawrence, Oliver Hazard Perry, had the ship’s mast emblazoned with the phrase.

How to Observe

The day can be celebrated by taking a boat ride, sharing Lawrence’s story, or reciting the famous phrase. It can be a day of standing your ground and sticking to your guns, or it can be a day to reflect on the power of legend and myth in shaping perception of war and valor.

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