Last Saturday I had the privilege to attend the commissioning ceremony of the USS NEW YORK (LPD 21). Traditionally the commissioning of a naval vessel is a time of celebration, the welcoming of a new shipand its crew to the fleet. It’s a symbol of our national pride and steadfast resolve. Yet on that day, I have to share, it meant even more. It’s been eight years since our country was attacked.
What makes the USS NEW YORK so special is what it’s built from. There’s 7.5 tons of sacred steel recovered from the World Trade Center site that’s been forged into its bow with the intent to Never Forget.
Above is a page from my sketchbook that afternoon. It was done the moment they were setting the orders in place to bring the ship to life.
This drawing of a NYC firefighter was done while listening to one of the Commanders speaking. The Commander was sharing an “official” letter given to him by a an FDNY Captain dated September 15th, 2001 – just three days after the collapse. The letter said that at that time (9/15/01) he was unable to relieve 343 of his men from duty – for they were missing and still considered “active”.
As expected, there were several dignitaries in attendance. Among them stood our Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. I think one of the most moving and memorable things she said was “By commissioning this ship today, we’re noting the best and the worst of humanity… and sometimes we are stronger in the broken parts.” I couldn’t agree more.
Being present to see the order to man the ship and bring her to life was a gift me, my Dad and those affected by 9/11 will forever hold in our hearts.
To all the crew and commanders of the USS NEW YORK, I pray your journey be true and may you always return home safely. Welcome and thank you – Michele
all drawings are copyright material by mbedigian©2009