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USS Olympia 1USS Olympia at the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia.

Four Question for John Brady

"We owe a considerable debt to the veterans of the Great War."

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission

As we all know, the WWI-era Battle Cruiser USS Olympia played a significant role in WWI, providing Naval support, helping with convoy duty, and bringing the Unknown Soldier home from France. The ship continues in her duties, as she uniquely tells the American WWI story in her role as a museum ship in city of Philadelphia. Last month, Olympia played host to a special Armistice Centennial ceremony that included participation in our Bells of Peace effort. We had a chance to hear about it from John Brady, President, Board of Directors, Flagship Olympia Foundation.

USS Olympia had a big 11 Nov — Commemoration plus Bells of Peace! Please tell us about what you all did. Who put it all together? What partners did you have?

The Independence Seaport Museum, with assistance from the Chapel of the Four Chaplains, Naval Support Activity Philadelphia, and local sea cadets, hosted the event.

How was the event received? Who did you meet, what did you take away from the experience?

The event was well attended by representatives from the local veterans and business community. Active duty military personnel including Admiral Heinz, Commander, NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support, also attended the event. Speakers included Congressman Brady and former Vietnam War POW Ralph Galati.

Olympia played a huge role in the post war, including the transport of the Unknown Soldier to Arlington. What other events, commemorations are planned for the coming future?

2021 is the 100th anniversary of the creation of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. Olympia transported the remains of the Unknown Soldier home from Europe and the Olympia will be participating in commemorative events associated with the anniversary.

Additionally, we are planning events surrounding the 125th anniversary of Olympia’s commissioning in 2020, her decommissioning in 2022, and the 125th anniversary of the Battle of Manila Bay/Spanish American War.

Olympia was critical in protecting US interests in post World War I Europe, and Olympia will also be sharing information regarding the ship's work off the Dalmatian Coast, resulting in the successful creation of Yugoslavia, the stabilization of the Balkans, and the humanitarian work she performed in the region.

Lastly, many African Americans served aboard Olympia. These individuals include the famous jazz musicians Zutty Singleton and Albert Nicholas. Charles Bolden, the son of Buddy Bolden (father of jazz) also served aboard her. The USS Olympia is encouraging African-Americans to share stories about their family member's service.

Why is it important for us to remember our WWI veterans?

We owe a considerable debt to the veterans of the Great War. 116,708 Americans did not come home. An additional 204,000 came home wounded. They were our fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons, and daughters, and we should always remember their sacrifices for our country.

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USS Olympia 4 gun

USS Olympia 6 benediction

USS Olympia 5 Brady

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