It is an honor to share this piece by Melissa Velez of the Naval History and Heritage Command, where we learn about some of the common history that our neighborhood and the United States Navy have shared since the beginning of both. Enjoy learning more about the connections that tie us together as family and make sure you follow the Naval History Command on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Can’t wait for the National Museum of the U.S. Navy to officially open! –Maria Helena Carey
The new museum’s ideal location is in the vicinity of the historic Washington Navy Yard, in the heart of Ward 6. Open to the public with no admission fee, the campus-style museum will be an educational, inspirational, cultural, and ceremonial center for those who have served and continue to serve the Navy today. The museum is planned to be built in Ward 6 and open by 2025. By creating a museum that’s accessible to locals and tourists alike, the Navy hopes to demonstrate to a wide audience the critical role it has played and continues to play in defense of our Nation. The modern U.S. Navy has a long history with Ward 6, even in its earliest form as the Continental Navy of the American Revolution, therefore offering a unique opportunity for a Navy museum.
A memorial at Ward 6’s Eastern High School connects the school’s history to the Navy, recognizing former students who have served in the armed forces as far back as the 1800s. Carl Augustus Bostrom, born in 1879, is one of these alumni. He already had ties to the Navy through his father, Augustus Bostrom, who worked as a steel turret designer at the Navy Yard. After graduating Eastern High School, Bostrom joined the Navy and went on to become a Lieutenant Commander. He died in Virginia in 1918. His mother, Christine Bostrom, lived at 531 7th Street NE at the time of her son’s death; the rowhouse still stands today.
Stories of local Sailors extend beyond Ward 6. Three of the Golden Thirteen—the first African American men to become Naval officers in 1944—were born in DC. Philip G. Barnes (1909–1949) attended Ward 5’s Armstrong High School, now Friendship Armstrong Academy, in 1927. He worked as a bookbinder at the Government Printing Office, joined the U.S. Army
Reserve until 1934, and then joined the U.S. Naval Reserve during World War II. Reginald E. Goodwin (1907–1974) also went to school in Ward 5, attending Dunbar High School before studying at Howard University. He worked as a director at various children’s clubs before enlisting in 1942. Dennis D. Nelson (1907–1979) studied sociology at Fisk University before enlisting in the same year. All three men received the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal; Nelson also received the Armed Forces Campaign Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.
The NMUSN will house and feature pioneers of Navy history, highlighting artifacts that pay tangible tribute to the service and sacrifice of our Sailors—past, present, and future. Some major parts of this history are racial integration, the inclusion of women, and other attempts to diversify the Navy or improve the reality of those already in it. By including these perspectives, the Navy will shine a light on an important part of our nation’s story. These histories are integral to the Navy’s story.
The NMUSN will include these people’s stories to highlight the bravery and achievements of all service members, even in the face of insurmountable odds. The current vision includes a museum space that covers approximately 300,000 square feet and, in the present plan, will include room for small shops or businesses within the museum. While the current National Museum of the U.S. Navy welcomes 100,000 visitors per year, estimates indicate the new NMUSN campus can expose more than 1.5 million visitors annually to the U.S. Navy’s history and heritage. Naval History and Heritage Command believes the museum will fill critical gap in sharing the stories of our Sailors, honoring the past and inspiring and furthering the Navy’s roots in the region.
The Navy Yard has been part of Ward 6 for more than 200 years. We are proud of our long-standing relationships and are excited to work closely with our neighbors in the coming years. By working together, we hope that the museum will become a major part of Ward 6 and the rest of DC.