The Wisconsin State Capitol building has a venerated relic on loan from the Navy, the Badger and Shield crest that was crafted from melted-down Spanish cannons seized in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, and carried by the Great White Fleet-era USS Wisconsin (Battleship No.9). The crest, removed when BB-9 was given a coat of haze grey sometime after 1908, was in the USNA’s collection and loaned to the state in 1988, installed in front of the Governor’s Conference Room.
Well, in 2020, the Nauticus Museum in Norfolk– home to the museum ship USS Wisconsin (BB-64) likely innocently asked USNA for the Badger so that it can be installed in their venue. This sparked a back and forth with the Navy and state officials asking to retain the crest. Of course, it probably helped that the state’s Democrat governor, Tony Evers, wrote Biden’s SECNAV, Carlos Del Toro, to help smooth things out.
This week, Del Toro said the Navy will extend the loan for another 50 years, so you can expect this may come back up in 2072– if we all aren’t speaking Chinese by then.
“I prize the strong affinity that the citizens of Wisconsin have developed toward the badger statue; it reflects the state’s proud maritime heritage and deep ties to the U.S. Navy,” Del Toro reportedly wrote Evers. “The Navy feels those ties, too, and we thank the people of Wisconsin for their ongoing interest in and support of our Navy and our nation’s maritime history.”
I personally think it is the right call by the Navy, as Wisconsin has taken great care of the Badger and it is seen every day in the state that its ship was named for.
Besides, Del Toro already has more than enough bad blood between the Navy and other states to worry about.