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GREAT LAKES, Ill. (July 4, 2016) — From left to right, Capt. James Hawkins, commanding officer of Naval Station Great Lakes; Rear Adm. Stephen C. Evans, commander of Naval Service Training Command; Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike Stevens; Samuel Cox, director of the Naval History and Heritage Command; David Torma, a board member of the National Museum of the American Sailor Foundation; North Chicago Mayor Leon Rockingham; Robert Bied, president of the Great Lakes Naval Museum Foundation; and Jennifer Searcy, Ph.D., director of the National Museum of the American Sailor; unveil the new sign in front of the National Museum of the American Sailor, at Great Lakes, Ill., July 4. The Great Lakes Naval Museum was renamed the National Museum of the American Sailor in order to honor the diverse history of Sailors who have served in the U.S. Navy. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Eric Lockwood/Released)
GREAT LAKES, Ill. (July 4, 2016) — From left to right, Capt. James Hawkins, commanding officer of Naval Station Great Lakes; Rear Adm. Stephen C. Evans, commander of Naval Service Training Command; Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike Stevens; Samuel Cox, director of the Naval History and Heritage Command; David Torma, a board member of the National Museum of the American Sailor Foundation; North Chicago Mayor Leon Rockingham; Robert Bied, president of the Great Lakes Naval Museum Foundation; and Jennifer Searcy, Ph.D., director of the National Museum of the American Sailor; unveil the new sign in front of the National Museum of the American Sailor, at Great Lakes, Ill., July 4. The Great Lakes Naval Museum was renamed the National Museum of the American Sailor in order to honor the diverse history of Sailors who have served in the U.S. Navy. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Eric Lockwood/Released)

Celebrating the American Sailor

From Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike Stevens

July 4th marked a special day in my more than 30 years of Navy service. As Americans across the country celebrated our Nation’s 240 years of rich heritage, I was surrounded by shipmates at the gateway for our Navy’s enlisted training pipeline, Naval Service Training Command, Great Lakes, Ill., to make an important announcement.

GREAT LAKES, Ill. (July 4, 2016) — From left to right, Capt. James Hawkins, commanding officer of Naval Station Great Lakes; Rear Adm. Stephen C. Evans, commander of Naval Service Training Command; Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike Stevens; Samuel Cox, director of the Naval History and Heritage Command; David Torma, a board member of the National Museum of the American Sailor Foundation; North Chicago Mayor Leon Rockingham; Robert Bied, president of the Great Lakes Naval Museum Foundation; and Jennifer Searcy, Ph.D., director of the National Museum of the American Sailor; unveil the new sign in front of the National Museum of the American Sailor, at Great Lakes, Ill., July 4. The Great Lakes Naval Museum was renamed the National Museum of the American Sailor in order to honor the diverse history of Sailors who have served in the U.S. Navy. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Eric Lockwood/Released)
GREAT LAKES, Ill. (July 4, 2016) — From left to right, Capt. James Hawkins, commanding officer of Naval Station Great Lakes; Rear Adm. Stephen C. Evans, commander of Naval Service Training Command; Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike Stevens; Samuel Cox, director of the Naval History and Heritage Command; David Torma, a board member of the National Museum of the American Sailor Foundation; North Chicago Mayor Leon Rockingham; Robert Bied, president of the Great Lakes Naval Museum Foundation; and Jennifer Searcy, Ph.D., director of the National Museum of the American Sailor; unveil the new sign in front of the National Museum of the American Sailor, at Great Lakes, Ill., July 4. The Great Lakes Naval Museum was renamed the National Museum of the American Sailor in order to honor the diverse history of Sailors who have served in the U.S. Navy. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Eric Lockwood/Released)

 

GREAT LAKES, Ill. (July 4, 2016) — Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike Stevens speaks during an unveiling ceremony for the renaming of the Great Lakes Naval Museum to the National Museum at the American Sailor, at Great Lakes, Ill., July 4. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Eric Lockwood/Released)
GREAT LAKES, Ill. (July 4, 2016) — Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike Stevens speaks during an unveiling ceremony for the renaming of the Great Lakes Naval Museum to the National Museum at the American Sailor, at Great Lakes, Ill., July 4. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Eric Lockwood/Released)

We were there, flanked by civilians in their red, white and blue, to celebrate our Nation’s birthday, but also to celebrate the American Sailor. In celebrating shipmates, I had the great opportunity to announce and unveil the National Museum of the American Sailor. Formerly called the Great Lakes Naval Museum, the National Museum of the American Sailor pays tribute to the millions of Sailors who, since Oct. 13, 1775, have raised their right hands and sworn an oath to be part of something greater than themselves.

What may appear as a simple name change to some, for me, marks a recommitment to my shipmates that as a Navy, and as a Nation, we honor the service and sacrifice of all American Sailors.

 Anchored in our roots.

Just as the Great Lakes Naval Museum did for 19 years, the National Museum of the American Sailor remains at the gateway of our Navy. From its founding in 1911, the Great Lakes Naval Station has taken civilians from all walks of life, transforming men and women, sons and daughters, into our Nation’s finest Sailors. As the largest military installation in Illinois, and the largest training center in the Navy, it is only fitting that the museum which reflects the dedication of our American Sailors remains in the Great Lakes region.

Samuel Cox, director of the Naval History and Heritage Command, speaks during an unveiling ceremony for the renaming of the Great Lakes Naval Museum to the National Museum at the American Sailor, at Great Lakes, Ill., July 4. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Eric Lockwood/Released)
Samuel Cox, director of the Naval History and Heritage Command, speaks during an unveiling ceremony for the renaming of the Great Lakes Naval Museum to the National Museum at the American Sailor, at Great Lakes, Ill., July 4. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Eric Lockwood/Released)

What’s in a name?

I am proud to be a part of this evolution. There is a reason why names are debated. Some names are easy to remember, others easy to overlook. When we set out to rename the Great Lakes Naval Museum, we did so with purpose. We wanted the name to portray the underlying ideal that unites all our shipmates – our desire to serve our Nation.

We also wanted the name to easily inform people what to expect upon walking in. Thus, we chose the National Museum of the American Sailor – simple, effective, unifying. The National Museum of the American Sailor is a place devoted to telling the story of anyone who has ever worn the Navy’s enlisted uniform. Serving as a vital connection to the training process for all Navy recruits, the National Museum of the American Sailor will become the quarterdeck for Sailors, families, and retirees alike to share their stories, their memories, their history, and their heritage for decades to come.

I am very excited for this museum, what it represents, and what it will become. There is no doubt in my mind that for years to come, the National Museum of the American Sailor will offer everyone who walks through its doors more than centuries worth of Navy Honor, Courage and Commitment.

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