Old Ironsides’ upscale Charlestown neighbors are trying to pull off what British, French and Barbary pirate guns failed to accomplish in more than two centuries - silencing the cannons of the nation’s oldest commissioned naval vessel.
Miffed residents of a posh condo complex have invited the commanding officer of the USS Constitution over for a glass of wine so he can hear for himself that the frigate’s twice-daily cannon blasts - a tradition dating to 1798 - are “more disruptive to the neighborhood than you might have imagined.”
The legendary, 204-foot-long battleship is equipped to hold 44 cannons, but only two take turns shooting a four-foot blast of gunpowder twice a day, Cooper said.
Launched in 1797 and named by President George Washington, the Constitution saw action against the French, Barbary pirates and the British in the War of 1812.
The daily gun salute - halted in the early 1900s and revived in 1975 - requires naval officers to fire from one of the working guns every day at 8 a.m. and again at sunset.
The harpies of the shore shall pluck
The eagle of the sea!
Excerpts from letters of complaint sent by Charlestown neighbors to Commander Timothy Cooper of the USS Constitution.
Aug. 26, 2009
“Unfortunately, the positives of life near the Navy Yard also come with disadvantages . . . It seems to us, that the cannon charge/noise is excessive. Over the summer, we have entertained several times, and we have had guests sit up in shock when the cannon goes off.
My husband (name deleted) and I would like to invite you over for a glass of wine . . . to experience the sunset blast. We are confident you will agree that it is much more disruptive to the neighborhood than you might have imagined.”
“We offer a few ideas for consideration:
A reduction in the size of the battery charge would help.
In the morning, a reduction in the National Anthem volume would help.
On Sat and Sun, would you be open to eliminating or delaying the morning salute to say 9am?
As a final note, we had guests . . . and let them know to expect the morning salute. Nonetheless, they were very startled by the volume and concussion of the salute ceremony.”
I say LOAD the damn cannons and . . .
No, just kidding.