National Hat Day: How hats serve as a sense of pride for the U.S. Navy

Virginia News

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Jan. 15 marks National Hat Day, and millions are sporting their finest hats.

To celebrate the day, 8News sister-station WAVY was given a history lesson on some of the most iconic U.S. Navy hats through the years.

A hat can say a lot about one’s personality and in the Navy, a hat says a lot about one’s journey of serving our country. 

John Pentangelo is the director of Hampton Roads Naval Museum and says the hats tell many stories. 

“In 1797, the Navy creates their first uniform regulation,” said Pentangelo. 

Master Chief Justin Gray has about 20 different ball caps — one from every command — and a few others he picked up along the way. 

“It gives the sailor something to identify with their teammates, a sense of camaraderie, a common shared experience and obviously the ship’s crest embroidered on it, sometimes that artwork gets pretty fancy,” said Chief Gray. 

Through the years, the hats have evolved. Pentangelo says around the time of the Civil War, the Navy grew exponentially and so did the regulations. 

“That’s around the time the flat cap came into play, it’s also known as the Donald Duck hat. It was in service around the Civil War,” said Pentangelo. “And then] in the 1880s, this famous Dixie cup hat was introduced. This is iconic, this is what most people think of when they think ‘sailor.’ They think of this hat and of course its still in service today.”

It’s clear a hat is not just part of a uniform, but a sense of pride for those who serve our country.

“A lot of us get pride from belonging to something bigger than ourselves or displaying what we enjoy in life and I think hats serve that purpose,” said Pentagelo. 

Hats are pretty easy to maintain, they don’t take up too much space, but they serve as a memory for so many, something to hold onto forever. 



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