By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kaitlin Rowell, U.S. Naval Academy Public Affairs
The U.S. Naval Academy Museum will hold a viewing of the British Royal Standard this Saturday, Apr. 7, in Dahlgren Hall located at the U.S. Naval Academy, in Annapolis, MD.
The British Royal Standard that flew over York (Toronto), Canada was captured by U.S. forces during the War of 1812. Congressional and Presidential directives from more than 150 years require the U.S. Naval Academy to preserve and exhibit captured flags.
“This event is not about our capturing the flag,” said Claude Berube, Director, U.S. Naval Academy Museum. “This is about history, the 200 years of peace that have ensued and cooperation between our three countries.”
This marks the first time since the 1880s that the flag is available to be viewed in its entirety at 35 feet by 25 feet.
“We have initiated this event as part of a larger preservation project to ensure future generations will be able to see what these flags were and what they meant,” said Berube. “Also fulfilling one of our missions, which is to educate midshipmen on their naval heritage as well as inform the general public.”
The U.S. Naval Academy Museum is responsible for the preservation of 60,000 items in its collection.
“Both Canada and England have things of ours in their museums,” said Berube. “This shows that we respect each other’s history and heritage and I think that’s particularly important.”
The British Royal Standard was previously in an exhibit case in the academy’s Mahan Hall, where only a portion of the flag was viewable. Along with several War of 1812 ship flags captured by the U.S. Navy, the Royal Standard was removed after a century for curation.
“We preserve and show these things because they tell stories that are still relevant today,” said Charles Swift, Managing Director and Supervisory Museum Curator of U.S. Naval Academy Museum. “I think that’s the most important thing, that every one of these flags can be used to tell real stories about real people.”
The museum currently has more than 200 battle flags and a total flag collection of more than 600.
After the ceremony the flag will go to a storage unit for preservation. A long term conservation plan for all of the flags is still being developed, due to the extent of the collection.
Conservation funds were provided by the Naval History and Heritage Command.
The mission of the U.S. Naval Academy Museum is to collect, preserve, and exhibit the artifacts and art that are the physical heritage of the U.S. Navy and the Naval Academy in order to instill in midshipmen a knowledge of their history and heritage and to supplement the instruction of all academic departments of the Academy. The museum also demonstrates to the public the contributions of Academy graduates to the military services and to the nation and frequently motivates young people to become part of the Brigade of Midshipmen and to begin a career of service to their nation.