One hundred and twenty-three years ago, the Navy wanted to dismantle the frigate Constitution. She had led a hard life. She fought against the Barbary pirates in 1804 and 1805. In the War of 1812 she defeated the best the British could put against her. British cannonballs bounced off her sides until the sailors called her "Old Ironsides." She helped lead the struggling nation through its darkest hours. But by 1830, she was old, no good for modern warfare. It was then that Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., wrote a ballad that started, "Ay, tear her tattered ensign down!" Rather than let the "harpies of shore... pluck the eagle of the sea," Holmes asked: "Nail to the mast her holy flag, Set every threadbare sail, And give her to the god of storms, The lightning, and the gale!" Again the Constitution needs saving. The Navy says it cannot afford the $3 million needed to do the job. To America, $3 million is just a drop in the scuttle butt that sits on the Constitution's gun deck. If we spend billions for defense, we can spend $3 million for tribute to a heroine of the sea. From The Long Island Newsday editorial November 10, 1953
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