During World War II, from January of 1942 until hostilities ended in 1945, about 5,000 American Navy and Coast Guard personnel were trained in seamanship aboard the stately "tall ship" -- that is, sailing ship -- Danmark. Among them were Adm. James S. Gracey, the current commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, and his retired predecessor, Adm. O.W. Siler.
Launched in 1933, the Danmark was a school ship from the beginning. In 1940, when the German Nazis occupied Denmark, she was visiting Florida. She didn't return to Europe, but after Pearl Harbor became a training ship sailimg out of the Coast Guard Academy at New London, Conn.
So here's the news: the Danmark will cross from Denmark and sail up the Potomac River to Washington on April 19, to be saluted by gunfire from the long-dormant Fort Washington on the Prince George's County shore.
And, most important to a lot of people like the admirals Gracey and Siler, she'll play hostess to as many of the 5,000 who trained aboard her decks as can be found. Were you among them? If so, call James Ward, chief of the Coast Guard's community relations branch, at (202) 426-1900.
When she arrives here, the Danmark will be under the command of her captain of 10 years, Vilhelm Hansen. But a special guest will fly in from Copenhagen: Capt. Knud Langeved, 81, who was the first officer who oversaw all those trainees during what Archie Bunker called "WW II, the big one."