One of my favorite parts of this house in Tampa is a gallery wall of some of our personal Navy history. I put this gallery together last summer while Pat was away at training and I love how it came together. I was so excited to show him when he came home. It is one of the first things you can see when you enter our home.
It’s location is in the middle of our staircase, which, while not quite spiral, takes many turns as it winds up from the bottom. The top leads right into the master bedroom and then the hallway upstairs winds around the staircase opening, kind of like a gallery. About halfway up the stairs there is a little bit of wall that was just the right size for this project.
In my time in the Navy, I served on two ships and Pat has served on four ships. At the end of our tour on each ship, we were presented with a few special items. One is a matted photo of the ship on which our fellow officers write well wishes to us in the matting. The other is a plaque with the ship’s seal on it. These plaques are heavy and I have never put them up on the walls in any past houses. They’ve spent years wrapped in packing paper, tucked in a closet or storage area somewhere. At one point, I wanted to get rid of them because I didn’t ever see us putting them on a wall and it seemed like a lot of extra weight to keep dragging around. The signed pictures have a lot more sentimentality because they have those special notes on them. But, the plaques are still some pretty special memorabilia and I really don’t think I could have gotten rid of them.
Last summer when I was finishing up the unpacking, I had all these plaques sitting in a corner, waiting for me to find the right closet. But then a special plaque arrived in the mail from Tennessee, our last duty station. While there, Pat’s job was with the Navy’s Personnel Command in Millington, Tennessee outside of Memphis, home of the blues and hence this plaque was shaped like a guitar with a lot of great details. It’s really unique and a special memento of our time there. I knew I wanted to place this on the wall and I started thinking about adding the other plaques as well. The staircase wall was looking like a great place.
This house has a lot of wall space and I had been putting things on the wall that I hadn’t used in previous houses. I also found a calendar I gave Pat a few years ago with reprints of vintage program covers from Naval Academy football games. The calendar was thrown in a box with some other misfit picture frames that were out of rotation at the moment. It turns out that the calendar pages fit perfectly in the picture frames. I picked out a few of my favorite program covers, added them to the frames and started playing with a gallery wall that mixed the pictures and the plaques.
As you go across the wall the top left plaque is from the USS Port Royal CG-73, a cruiser I served on in Hawaii. The plaque on the top right, shaped like an aircraft carrier is the USS Theodore Roosevelt CVN-71. In the middle is the other aircraft carrier Pat served on, the USS Enterprise CVN-65. Across the bottom are the USS Robert G. Bradley FFG-49, USS Carl Vinson CVN-70 (me), and USS Ross DDG-71 and the guitar.
On their own, I think the plaques would have been boring. But mixed in with the pictures, I’m so happy with how it came together. For the football program covers, I chose Penn State, Notre Dame and Army. Pat’s brother went to Penn State and they’re both fans of Penn State football. The Notre Dame/Navy game has been a staple of the Navy football schedule every year but there haven’t been a lot of wins for Navy. I remember how excited Pat was when Navy beat Notre Dame in 2007 for the first time in 43 years! And Army/Navy is the most awaited game of every year, steeped in years of tradition and rivalry.
I’m so glad I took the time (and the wall anchors) to put this up on our wall. It’s a great reminder of where we’ve been and a fun way to show off those serious plaques!
I’m including this gallery in Remodelaholic’s Deck the Walls link party.