The Significant Story Behind Kamala Harris’s New Vice Presidential Desk

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By way of executive-branch workplace furnishings, the Resolute Desk instructions virtually all the eye. It is smart, given the numerous weighty choices presidents have contemplated from this 1,300-pound oak piece, whose historical past dates again to the times of Rutherford B. Hayes. However over within the Eisenhower Govt Constructing, Vice President Kamala Harris presides over a desk that, whereas technically solely in service for just a few months, is arguably greater than 80 years older than its counterpart within the Oval Workplace.

The brand new desk comes courtesy of the U.S. Naval Building Battalions, which sourced its wooden, copper, and nails from the USS Structure. First launched in 1797 and nonetheless afloat immediately, the Structure registers because the oldest commissioned warship nonetheless within the U.S. Navy’s arsenal, though its goal now could be basically ceremonial. The desk’s aesthetics come from the ship as effectively, as its eagle- and star-laden façade evokes decorations discovered on the strict of the vessel, dubbed Outdated Ironsides.

Fortunately, somebody within the battalion, generally known as the Seabees, didn’t merely pry planks of wooden off the Structure from its slip in Boston. In accordance with, the desk’s wooden got here from two restorations of the vessel performed in 2007 and 2017, with a workforce led by Navy builder first-class Hilary Lemelin dealing with desk meeting at Washington Navy Yard. Work began in early January and was completed just a few weeks after the Biden-Harris administration’s inauguration.

Whereas Vice President Harris’s desk is very distinctive, it wasn’t the one heritage desk the Seabees felt impressed to create this yr. Present Navy secretary Thomas Harker additionally acquired a desk with supplies sourced from the Structure, in addition to the frigate Chesapeake and battleships Texas, New Jersey, and Arizona (which was sunk at Pearl Harbor). Particular touches for this desk embrace a copper inlay from the Structure, in addition to items of metal recovered from the Arizona.

For the Navy, turning historic warships into desks gives those that use them an opportunity to attach with each the historical past and goal of their group. “Every of those historic warships. . . embody the distinction, braveness, and dedication of those that served in them,” Paul Taylor, Navy historical past and heritage command spokesman, informed “The desks might be lasting reminders to our civilian leaders that immediately’s Navy and our various sailors and marines are deployed ahead…to discourage aggression and protect freedom of the seas.” Given the elite clientele for these desks and the rarity of the supplies used to assemble them, the Seabees haven’t any additional plans for added heritage desks at this present second in time. 

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