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Memorial Day services returned to Hell’s Kitchen at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum as the first in-person commemoration in three years wrapped New York’s Fleet Week on Monday.
Governor Kathy Hochul, Mayor Eric Adams, as well as a raft of military commanders attended the event on Pier 86 in Hell’s Kitchen.
Both the Governor and Mayor emphasized the significance of unified New York leadership in their remarks. The Governor made a point to praise the Mayor, as a counterpoint to the infamously frosty relationship of previous Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio.
“Some people noticed that they hadn’t seen a Governor and a Mayor on the same stage for this event. We are here to make history through collaboration. Because when you join the military you put your ego aside, you put your political persuasion aside and you become one powerful objective to protect your beloved homeland,” she said.
Governor Hochul, who previously served in the Armed Services, additionally addressed the fight against not just international but domestic terrorism — “We stand ready to fight — it’s in our DNA as New Yorkers,” she said. “We always embrace a good fight if it’s for a worthy cause — and the protection of freedom, the very foundation of our country, is that worthy fight. “
The Governor went on to praise the armed forces for their sacrifices and also highlighted a greater need for veteran support resources in New York. “We will always embrace those who served and those who have special needs when they come back, especially those with PTSD. We are here to help you heal, we are here to help you get those jobs, we’re here to help with education supporting housing,” she said.
The Mayor praised the United States armed forces for protecting the American dream, saying: “There is something special about this country. It’s the only country on the globe with DREAM attached to our name. There’s no German dream, but darn it there’s an American dream. This is where dreams are made and built and we have to always protect that dream with the men and women who defend this soil.”
Intrepid Museum President Susan Marenoff-Zausner and attending military commanders honored the fallen with four wreaths placed into the Hudson — one for those lost in current conflict, one for all conflicts throughout history, one for those lost from the Intrepid, and one for those service members lost from allied nations.
Marenoff-Zausener also honored surviving former crew members of the Intrepid at the ceremony and noted the ship’s significant impact in combat, where 250 crew members perished over the course of the ship’s 31-year active duty. “Intrepid in the time of its active duty was remarkable — engaged in World War II, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, and the Space Race,” she said. “On Memorial Day we honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice protecting our nation and our freedom — and we recognize how especially fitting we do what we do next to this legendary aircraft carrier we call the Intrepid,” added Marenoff-Zausner.
The Intrepid served as a centerpiece of Fleet Week celebrations as the city welcomed service members back to town for the first time in three years. In addition to Thursday’s Salute to Freedom Gala, which honored Academy-Award winning actor and director Denzel Washington with a Lifetime Achievement Award, the museum hosted a weekend-long series of interactive exhibits and appearances from surviving crew members from the Intrepid and the US Marines, US Coast Guard, US Air Force, Claymore Vets, the American Red Cross, and LEGOLAND, culminating with Monday’s commemoration ceremony and a Coast Guard search and rescue demonstration.
Admiral Daryl Caudle, commander of United States Fleet Forces Command summed up the significance of the ceremony’s location in his remarks: “For those limited by the cameras, we’re sitting in between a combined a 150,000 tons of US Navy hardware. We’ve got the Intrepid, the Baatan — what an incredible backdrop. To the entire Intrepid museum team — thank you for your unwavering efforts in honoring our nation’s heroes and inspiring generations of Americans.”