Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Armed Forces Day 2015

For Armed Forces Day (May 16 in 2015) we went back to the Cryptologic Museum for their festivities. The day celebrates all those who defend our country. It was created in 1949 as a consolidation of the various Army, Navy, and Air Force Days (since they were all integrated into the Department of Defense that year). The Marine Corps still celebrates their own day but they also participate in Armed Forces Day.

The sign

Walking in from the parking lot, the first display was the radio station, where ham radio operators demonstrated their equipment and techniques. They had a radio from World War II and some telegraph equipment (along with a chart showing Morse Code). J and L were fascinated by the old-style equipment.

Ham radio demonstrations

Old tech-the kids loved the typewriter

Morse Code and broadcasters

Another set

At another booth, Naval cadets taught knot tying. L was more interested than J, though that may have been due to the colorful little ropes on which they practiced.

The nice lady demonstrates a square knot for L

L ties the knot!

Further on was a thank you card to sign to troops out on deployment.

L signs

J signs

Also outside were several emergency response vehicles from the Maryland National Guard. One looks like a communications vehicle with its special dome antenna. No one was there to talk about it. The doors were open so J and L both sat at the wheel.

Communications/response vehicle

J at the wheel

L ready to drive

Front view of the car

The other vehicle is basically a mobile crime lab. Meant to analyze CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or explosive) materials, it is useful during large scale incidents or in handling much simpler issues like an envelope with suspicious white powder.

Mobile CBRNE lab

We saw where the band would be playing later in the afternoon, but L had a birthday party to attend, so we never got to hear them. Maybe next year!

Band stand before band's arrival

On our way inside, L and J picked up sheets for the scavenger hunt, which consisted in finding letters at various stations and displays and matching them up to different lines on the sheet. The SIGABA cipher machine was used by the Americans in World War II.

SIGABA Machine provided scavenger hunt letter E!

Across the hall is a display for the Wind Talkers, Navajos who used their language as a code indecipherable to the Axis powers in the Pacific.

Wind Talkers display

Another fun activity indoors was the invisible ink display. In the American War of Independence, colonial spies used invisible ink to hide messages in mundane correspondence. A reactive agent made the words reappear!

J and L write with invisible ink

L restores her letters

Another interesting code is this random sheet of letters (bottom of the picture) that is discernible only when the top sheet is placed over it.

Will the proper letters please make themselves known!

Many other displays show the various devices used to keep information secure, including the famous Enigma machine.


A bit from the Colossus computer

Vietnam-era reconnaissance 

Old-fashioned satellite

After completing the scavenger hunt, J and L turned in their sheets for the prize--ice cream.

A sweet, sprinkly treat

One last station outside had an enormous Jenga block tower. We didn't try our hand at it but admired others who did.

Super Jenga

We were happy to celebrate Armed Forces Day in such an informative and fun way.

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