Last spring, Spokane’s Museum of Arts and Culture offered a traveling exhibit of the USS Constitution, with a drawing to win a cruise on Old Ironsides. Anyone in nine Western states, Puerto Rico, and Guam, could enter.
Dirk Seymour, a Coeur d’Alene fifth-grader and Idaho Virtual Academy student, was there to view the exhibit with his parents. Although only 100 names were to be drawn, with only 20 in the student category, Dirk decided to take a chance and enter the contest.
On April 30, he received a letter in the mail from the USS Constitution Museum.
The letter was addressed to the 9-year-old, stating, “Congratulations! You are an Old Ironsides Across the Nation cruise winner!”
“I was excited and shocked, both,” Dirk said.
The museum invited him and three guests, on July 16, aboard the USS Constitution for a once-in-a-lifetime, “Salute to the North and Northwest United States cruise of Boston Harbor.”
Dirk’s father, Pat Seymour, endangered species program manager for the Idaho Department of Lands, and Dirk’s mother, Jean, have a vacation fund they regularly contribute to. They’d planned to visit Yellowstone this past summer.
But the family of three knew the cruise opportunity was too good to miss.
On July 14, they flew to Boston. On July 15, the crew of the ship and staff from the USS Constitution Museum offered fun activities and events to the winners from the contest, in Boston’s Charlestown Navy Yard. They enjoyed family activities, behind-the-scenes tours and an evening reception at the museum.
“We toured the USS Constitution below decks, the maintenance and restoration building, the Freedom Trail, and climbed all 294 steps to the top of Bunker Hill Monument,” Dirk shared. “Riding water shuttles or walking, we visited the New England Aquarium, the USS Cassin Young (WWII Destroyer), and Harbor Islands State Park, where we visited Fort Warren (island fort from the civil war).”
But the highlight of the trip was the cruise, Dirk said, was on Saturday morning, July 16, at 10 a.m. After passing through security, the Seymours and the rest of the winners and their guests toured historic Boston Harbor on a two-hour tug-powered cruise aboard the 207-year-old Old Ironsides. The event included a cannon salute to the visitors’ Northern and Northwest regions of the country.
Adding to that excitement, Dirk says, something wonderful and unexpected happened on the cruise.
“I received a 40 mm round shell cartridge from the 21-gun salute, from one of the crew members.”
It was a day Dirk and his family will never forget.
And if Dirk hadn’t won the cruise, it’s doubtful the family would have visited Boston.
Jean said, “We wouldn’t normally choose Boston for a family vacation, but we’re so glad we went.”
The family spent a week in Boston, the nearest major US seaport to Europe. They planned ahead of time what else to see, before leaving home, by studying books on the city and the USS Constitution’s history.
“We studied about 20 books, more or less,” Dirk, an avid reader, said.
The family also prepared financially for their trip, Jean said.
“Dirk helped earn money, doing odd jobs. He took care of cats, and watered gardens when neighbors were absent and needed assistance.”
Together, the family delivered flowers for a local florist on several holidays, and had a garage sale to help earn funds for the trip.
“Dirk parted with personal items for the garage sale that Pat, Dirk and I had, with all the profits going into the vacation fund. Since we couldn’t go to both Yellowstone and Boston in the same year, Dirk had to make the very difficult choice between the two. He chose the USS Constitution cruise.”
Jean, also Dirk’s Idaho Virtual Academy teacher, incorporated math into the trip’s preparation, as she, Pat, and Dirk figured out how much they made at the garage sale, how much gas was used delivering flowers, and how much the profits were from Dirk’s odd jobs.
When not reading about military history, Dirk enjoys 4-H, survival and archery programs. He’s a Northern Lights Swim Club member (swimming is a favorite pastime), and he loves the outdoors, an activity enjoyed by the whole family. They camp often, hike, canoe, kayak and enjoy mountain biking. In addition, they visit the library weekly.
“Dirk’s a voracious reader, and we visit all three local libraries every week, with Dirk always checking out his maximum number of books,” Jean said.
Many of the books Dirk chooses are about military history.
“The trip to Boston was especially fun for me, because I’m a military history buff. I may someday have a career in the military.”
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