The USS Enterprise
Though Memorial Day is known as the unofficial start to the summer season, historically, it has always been a holiday which is dedicated to the veterans of our Armed Forces as a way to thank them for all they have done. The Waldorf Astoria Hotel has served as the background for some of our nation’s most historic moments involving our Armed Forces – The Big Four Treaty held in the Towers, the housing of every President since Herbert Hoover, just to name a few – but what about celebrating our service men and women? Yes, we can take credit for this historical fact as well.
The USS Enterprise (CV-6) was the sixth commissioned aircraft carrier of the United States Navy which was launched in 1936. She was only one of three American carriers commissioned prior to World War II to survive the war and participated in more major actions of the war against Japan than any other US ship in history. Known to many as the “Big E”, the Enterprise earned 20 battle stars, becoming the most decorated ship of the Second World War. Obviously a ship and a crew of such heroic stature deserved the very best upon their return home to the United States in December of 1945. Due to severe weather conditions, the Enterprise was a few days behind schedule on their journey from the ports of Southampton, England to Bayonne, New Jersey arriving on the morning of Christmas Eve, December 24, 1945. The men wanted to get home as quickly as possible – some not being home for four years or longer – but upon arrival in New Jersey the Chaplin received a phone call telling him that children in a foundling home for boys had no hope for a “Merry Christmas” – not even a special dinner. Was there anything the “E” could do to help? Of course there was! The crew of the Enterprise threw a party for these boys and it was the best Christmas that these children had ever had.
When Frank Ready heard the news of this selfless and gracious act, knowing that some of these men needed a place to sleep for the night, he invited the crew of the Enterprise to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel and in their honor, threw them a celebration as a way to thank them for the invaluable service they provided overseas. The picture below shows the crew of the Enterprise on December 26, 1945 during their “Ships Party”. As you can see by the smiles on their faces, these men and women were happy to be home – what better place to be than at the Waldorf Astoria?
In honor of Memorial Day, this post is dedicated to the men and women of our Armed Forces who fight to give us the freedom’s we are all so fond of. Be sure to thank our veterans and wear a poppy flower with pride this weekend! From all of us here at The Waldorf Astoria New York, THANK YOU!
For more information on other unforgettable Waldorf moments, please visit our archive website at http://www.waldorfarchive.org!
- Erin Allsop, Archivist of The Waldorf Astoria New York
Erin is a graduate student in the Masters program of Library and Information Science at CUNY – Queens College, where she is focusing her studies on Archival Management and Preservation. You may contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org with any inquiries or questions you may have.