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NYC Mayor Adams Hosts Reception To Kick Off Fleet Week And Announces Plans For New Memorial Honoring Fallen Post-9/11 Service Members

Mayor Eric Adams kicked off Fleet Week 2024 with a reception at Gracie Mansion, where he also announced plans to build a new memorial in Queens for post-9/11 service members. The event, attended by military and civic leaders, honored the contributions and sacrifices of service members and emphasized the need to foster patriotism among younger generations.

Commissioner James Hendon, Department of Veterans’ Services: Good morning. Welcome to the 2024 New York City Fleet Week Kickoff Breakfast. As was mentioned, my name is James Hendon. I serve as commissioner for the New York City Department of Veteran Services, or DVS. 

Please remain standing for the presentation of colors by the USS Bataan Color Guard, followed by the National Anthem, which will be sung by musician 3rd Class Morgan Ramirez, with musical accompaniment from musician 3rd Class Caleb Dinger. Advance the colors. 

[Singing of U.S National Anthem.]

Commissioner Hendon: Yes, let’s give a round. At this time, U.S. Navy Chaplain Lieutenant Commander Benton Garrett will deliver our opening prayer.

Lieutenant Commander Benton Garrett, U.S. Navy: Thank you. Good morning, everybody. Let us pray. 

Lord, we call upon your presence this morning in this historic and honored home as we begin Fleet Week New York 2024. USS Bataan, of which I am chaplain, with her sailors and Marines, first visited New York City immediately following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack that shook and changed the world. There are people in the room, and I am one, who first decided to serve in the military as a direct response to that day. 

Lord, this graciously provided event is filled with people who have dedicated their lives to public service. Lord, bless our love and service to the country. Grant that this desire to feed, clothe, educate, protect, defend, and thrive our families, citizens, and fellow human beings can be the foundation of our inspirations and work for the common good of all. For where there is love, there is life. 

Lord, bless our gracious host, Mayor Adams, and his work to govern and guide and build and thrive this great city and her people. Bless and protect all of us as we carry out the mission of our lives as you have called us to do. Be with us, Lord, as we entrust ourselves to your grace and care, for it is in you, O Lord, that we trust. Amen.

Commissioner Hendon: Now, where were we? Happy Fleet Week. We’d like to give honors and salutations to our distinguished guests, starting with our Gold Star families, that is, those here who have lost a loved one, specifically a family member in combat service. Let’s give these family members a round of applause, y’all, please. 

Next, we’d like to recognize our elected officials, calling out the honorable Mercedes Narcisse, New York City Council Member, District 46. 

Now, for our appointed officials, acknowledging José Bayona, Executive Director, Office of Ethnic and Community Media, Rhonda Binda, Executive Director, Gracie Mansion Conservancy, Trey Moynihan, Executive Director, Mayor’s Office of Special Projects and Community Events, Dawn Tolson, Executive Director, Mayor’s Office of Citywide Event Coordination and Management, Kristen Kaufman, Deputy Commissioner, Mayor’s Office of International Affairs, Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez, Commissioner, Department of the Aging, Zachary Iscol, Commissioner, New York City Emergency Management, Lynelle Maginley-Liddie, Commissioner, Department of Corrections, Vilda Vera Mayuga, Commissioner, New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, Kelly Moan, Chief Information Systems Officer, Office of Technology and Innovation,  Anne Williams-Isom, Deputy Mayor, Health and Human Services, Sheena Wright, First Deputy Mayor, Office of the Mayor. Please give our appointed officials a round, everybody. 

Next, key military leaders who are here from our sea services, our highest-ranking official, the 78th Secretary of the Navy and a New York City native from Hell’s Kitchen, the Honorable Carlos Del Toro, Undersecretary, we can clap for that, Undersecretary of the Navy for Policy, the Honorable Anne Bonfante Gebhards, Commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Admiral  Daryl Caudle, Commander, U.S. Marine Forces Command, Lieutenant General Brian Cavanaugh, Commander, Coast Guard Atlantic Area, Vice Admiral Nathan Moore, Commander of the Navy’s Mid-Atlantic Region, Rear Admiral Wesley McCall, Commander, Coast Guard Sector, New York, Captain John Andrechik, Commander, 1st Marine Corps District, Colonel Phillip Ash, and representing our allies from Germany who are with us today, Rear Admiral Axel Schulz, Commander, 2nd Flotilla, German Navy. Let’s give all of our senior leaders a hand. 

I also want to acknowledge the leaders from the vessels that are present here for Fleet Week. From the USS Bataan, Captain Paul Burkhart, also the Commander of the Coast Guard’s Cutter Sturgeon Bay, recognizing Commander of the USS Marinette, Commander Shane Brewer, Commander of the Coast Guard Cutter Calhoun, Captain Timothy Sommella, Commander of the Coast Guard Cutter Captain Walker, Lieutenant Brianna Townsend, and then from the Deutsche Marine or the German Navy, Commander of the FGS Frankfurt am Main, Commander Hanno Weissensee, Commander of the FGS Baden-Württemberg, Commander [Dirk Christian Matthies], and recognizing our U.S. Naval Academy’s Brigade of Midshipmen for manning the four vessels from the Navy’s Yard Patrol Craft Squadron. Let’s give them a round, everyone. 

I’d like to also acknowledge both local and visiting military commands. Anyone we did not mention, charge it to our heads, not our hearts. Let’s give our military leadership, sea services, and everything a round of applause. 

Recognizing New York City’s Advisory Board and its members who are present, acknowledging its leadership, Mercedes Elias, Board Chairman, Co-CEO of America Vets Securities, Ryan Graham, Vice Chairman, Commander of VFW Post 150, Flanders Field Post. 

Also, last but not least, the team at DVS and the Mayor’s Office of Special Projects and Community Events. All parties worked hard behind the scenes to produce this morning’s breakfast. All who are here from MOSPCE and DVS, please raise your hands. Let’s acknowledge them. 

Special shout-out to Nicole Jordan Jones, Assistant Commissioner for Outreach, Chuck Rivera, Press Secretary, and Cassandra Alvarez, Chief of Staff at DVS. These folks are wind beneath my wings. 

Everybody knows what time it is now, and if you didn’t drink coffee yet, it’s time to get that kick, no caffeine required. It’s time to do roll call. We’re going to start with everybody, and it’s going to come down to just Coast Guard versus Navy and Marines, but before we get that competition up, let’s just start with everyone in the room. 

Make some noise if you are in the National Guard, Navy, Militia. All Guard, all Militia, where you at? Come on, somebody. Anybody? Guard, Militia? 

Oh, goodness. All right, all right. Not coming? Okay, I see they’re not going to win. They’re not going to win. They’re not winning. They’re not winning. 

Now, for my people, give us a shout if you’re in the Reserves. Anybody who’s a military Reserve? 

All right, me and Greg, we got this. Reserves, all right. Calling out all who are currently active duty. All active duty, make some noise. Say something if you’re active duty, military. Come on. 


We got the whole room screaming, too. All right. Now anyone who doesn’t wear the uniform now but who once did. The word on my chest. Let me hear from all of our veterans. Veterans, where you at? Veterans, where you at? 


All right, all right. Y’all coming deep? Coming deep? Then all of our families. Anybody who’s a family member or a loved one of a veteran, make some noise, y’all, please. 


All right. Then, any of our supporters. Just people who support. This is everybody in the room. If you support our community, please say something. Yell for us, please. 


All right, that’s bracket one. Now let’s get the main event down. This is just Coast Guard versus Marines versus Navy right now. Hey, I know some of y’all are thinking, I best not lose. Let’s start it off. Our friends from the Revenue Cutter Service, the U.S. Coast Guard. Sound off. 


Where you at, Coast Guard? All right, next up, Devil Dogs. Can you be louder than that? Where are Marines at? Marines? 


All right, all right, all right. Now let’s see if some sailors can rise to the occasion. It’s the moment of truth. Anchors away, U.S. Navy. 


All right, I’m going to get into who we think won. I’m going to ask the admirals, but they’re going to probably vouch for their folks as far as Coast Guard and Navy. I’m not going to ask the general, too, as far as General Cavanaugh. He’s going to say “Hoorah.” We’re going to have to call it a draw for now. 

We’ve acknowledged those who are here. we’re yelling and screaming and whatnot. Let’s pay homage to those who are not here. To your right. As you enter the room, you may have noticed a small, special table. It is reserved to honor our missing men and women. 

The empty chair represents Americans who were or are missing from the armed forces, all with us in spirit. The table is round to show our everlasting concern. The cloth is white, symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to serve. The single red rose reminds us of the lives of these Americans and their loved ones and friends who keep the faith while seeking answers. The yellow ribbon symbolizes our continued uncertainty, hope for their return, and determination to account for them and bring them home. 

A slice of lemon reminds us of their bitter fate, captured and missing in a foreign land. A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears of our missing and their families who long for answers after decades of uncertainty. The lighted candle reflects our hope for their return, alive or dead. The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain us and those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God. The glass is inverted to symbolize their inability to share a toast. The chair is empty. They are missing. Let us have a moment of silence. 

To those who have it, please raise your water glass in a toast to honor America’s POWs, MIAs, and others unaccounted for, to their success of our efforts to account for them, and to the safety of all now serving our nation. Hear hear. 

Call it out according to the Defense Department. It’s 81,000 more than that who are missing. More than 73,000 still not accounted for missing World War II. More than 7,500 still not accounted for, missing Korea. 1,576 Vietnam. Six from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just so we call this out and remember our folks.

Now that we’re ready to go, ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce the 110th Mayor of the City of New York, New York Police Department Captain Retired, New York State Senator Emeritus, and former Chair of the Senate’s Veterans, Homeland Security, and Military Affairs Committee, and Brooklyn Borough President Emeritus, Mayor of the City of New York. Ladies and gentlemen, the Honorable Eric Leroy Adams.

Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you. No one wakes us up like Commissioner Hendon, He brings that energy, commitment, and dedication to the entire Fleet Week. I see we’re joined also by Councilwoman Narcisse. Why don’t you come on up here and join us? Let the Councilwoman come in. It’s good to see you here. 

I don’t know if we have any other electeds here. Are there any electeds in the room? Those aren’t navy colors. Love it. 


Okay, love it, love it. Fleet Week is more than just the ceremonial start of the summer. Having you here, acknowledging the importance of those men and women who watered the tree of freedom with their blood that we are able to participate in the greatness of not only this city, but this entire country. This is a special event for us. We do not take it lightly when we open Gracie Mansion and you grace us with your presence. 

You see the importance of this harbor city and how this city has always been a symbol of what’s great about our country. I want to thank you for your service, and I often reflect on how important it is. 

We as New Yorkers, we’re still in a little mourning because our New York Knicks did not make it all the way through to the finals. If you notice, they had a real team. They invested in their bench. They invested in the future. Those of us who are sports lovers know that a real indication of a team that is sustainable is one that invests in their AAA, their farm team, their D League, and all of those who are coming up through the ranks to eventually adorn the courts to bring home the victories. 

The question I want to ask our country, where is our farm team? Where are they? When you have only 18 percent of 18 to 34-year-olds who are truly in love with this country, that is a troubling stat because it states that our farm team, those who are going to become part of our armed forces, you marry that with 52 percent of Americans say they won’t defend the country if we are attacked by a foreign enemy. You start to see a troubling picture of what franchise are we building. 

We must reverse those numbers. It starts with simple things. As I say over and over again, it starts with the simple reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance. It’s not just mere words on a piece of paper. It is a reflection of where our allegiance lies to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. 

This is the greatest country on the globe. No one lines up to leave America. They line up to come into America. Our product is the best product globally. You’re the representative of that product. We’ve always known that we are who we are because of our armed forces. It’s imperative that we once again reignite the spirit of what this country represents. 

When I watch those who honor Hamas and ISIS and Hezbollah, when I watch our young people on college campus who are supposed to be the brilliant minds of our future calling for the destruction of America, when I watch the energy on social media that says Bin Laden was right to attack our center of trade and our pentagon. When I watch these things, I say to all of us, do not take for granted that our liberty is something that will always be here if we don’t continue to bring our young men and women into the services that provide that. 

We need a reigniting of patriotism and what it means to be American and what it represents. I’m asking you, let’s recruit the patriotism back in our country. If they don’t adorn the uniforms like many of you do, even if they adorn a blue suit, a construction hat or just a messenger, let’s make sure that they’re part of Team America. Let’s start building our bench again. 

We will never forget our fallen heroes. We are building a 9-1-1 memorial for the 99 individuals who lost their lives here in our city. We’re building in Whitestone, Queens, the borough where the largest number of post 9-1-1 lives were lost in the services. We want to continue to say that not only do we honor you in life, we honor you when you transition from the physical to the spiritual, as you defend our great country. 

I will end as I started. Thank you. Thank you for what you do for the country, for the United States of America. Let God continue to bless us. This will be and always be God’s country, United States of America. Thank you very much. I want to now bring on Secretary to the Navy, my good friend, Del Toro.

Carlos Del Toro, Secretary of the Navy: Good morning, New York City. All right. The first thing is that I don’t think I will ever again agree to speak after the mayor of New York City. Goodness gracious.

Mr. Mayor, let me simply start by thanking you, sir, for your leadership of this great city, my hometown. Thank you for the great patriot that you are protecting our service members in uniform and our veterans in this great city of New York who have served our nation for so long. 

I will add one other very special thanks to you, Mr. Mayor. As someone who actually was in active duty here on 9/11, that very same day was the last day of our commissioning committee preparations for the ship that I was going to commission on Veterans Day of 2001. I spent the next three days down at Battery Park at the Coast Guard headquarters, leading reservists here in this great city, calling them back to duty to do what we could do, obviously, in the midst and shadow of that great tragedy. 

I was proud later on that same year on December 8th to bring back the USS Buckeley, our Navy’s then newest destroyer, and commission her in the shadows of the Twin Towers. Thank you, Mr. Mayor, for not forgetting those brave Americans who lost their lives that day and the brave service members who continue to fight in the post-9/11 days in Iraq and Afghanistan. You show tremendous courage of conviction, sir, and always honoring their memory. Thank you on behalf of all of them. 

So, good morning. What an absolute honor to be here again in this beautiful mansion, Gracie Mansion, with this great mayor to celebrate the 36th New York City Fleet Week. Commissioner Hendon, I don’t think there is anyone in the United States with more energy than you, sir, and patriotism towards our service members. The only thing that perhaps could make you a little bit more perfect is if you had actually been a Navy veteran. 

We honor, sir, your service in the United States Army as Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army Reserve. We are extremely proud to have you here in New York and in this great country. Thank you, sir, for being our ally all along the way and the biggest fan of New York City Fleet Week. 

I also want to take a brief moment to, because we’re very excited to actually have three members from the Broadway cast of Hamilton here with us today. If you could please raise your hands. We have Jared Dixon, who plays Aaron Burr. Very nice. We have Jenny Harney-Fleming, who plays Angelica Schuyler. We also have Mr. Tamar Greene, who plays George Washington himself, our commander in chief. We are so grateful to have you here to celebrate this special occasion today. 

Again, Mayor Adams, we owe you and every New Yorker a debt of gratitude for opening up your doors and offering a warm welcome to our sailors, our Marines, and our Coast Guard men and women. On behalf of the Department of the Navy, I would like to present you with this gift as a token of our appreciation for your enduring support to our personnel and their families. 

New York City is indeed a Navy town, but also much more, both as a global financial capital of the world and the heart of our nation’s economy, not to mention my own hometown. It is a beacon of prosperity, as well as an example of America’s resiliency and unbreakable spirit. It is where my family settled after fleeing Cuba as refugees of the Castro regime. 

Every time I visit my hometown of New York City, I am reminded of why I chose to dedicate my own life to serving our great nation over the last 40 years, both in and out of uniform. The opportunity to succeed, to realize your dreams, to be part of something bigger than yourself. 

To our uniformed personnel here today, from Admiral Caudle and Lieutenant General Cavanaugh, all the way down to our most junior enlisted sailor, Marine, and Coast Guard men and women, thank you. Thank you for volunteering your time, your careers, your lives, and service to our great nation. Thank you to all of your families. I also extend a warm thank you to our German allies as well, too, for their service and that of their families as well. 

By doing so, you are all part of a legacy that stretches back almost 250 years to our war for independence from Great Britain. Those sailors, Marines, and soldiers of the Continental Navy and Army fought battles both ashore and at sea, including right here in New York. If I remember correctly, quite a few in Brooklyn as well, too, Mr. Mayor. 

Their leaders, from Commodore John Barry to General George Washington, came from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences themselves. They were professional soldiers, mariners, lawyers, farmers, doctors, with many of them being immigrants or children of immigrants, all yearning for a new life filled with opportunities that were not available to them in the old world of Europe where they came from. 

In some cases, like General Washington’s aide-de-camp, the Marquis de Lafayette, they were Europeans who felt a kinship to the colonists, a yearning for the same freedoms and democratic ideals that these men and women were willing to lay down their lives for. 

I know that that’s a journey and a dream that still continues today and fulfillment of immigrants coming to this great city, coming to this great nation, hoping for that same American dream that all of our ancestors here actually had the opportunity to fulfill. 

Since we are here in New York City, I would be remiss if I did not mention Alexander Hamilton, a Caribbean immigrant and one of our nation’s better-known founding fathers. Alexander Hamilton, like Lafayette, served on General Washington’s personal staff during the Revolutionary War, ultimately commanding troops during the Battle of Yorktown. After the war, he established the United States Treasury Department and, with it, the forerunner to our nation’s oldest seagoing service, the United States Coast Guard. 

However, what many individuals don’t know is that Secretary Hamilton was a fierce advocate for our nation to establish a navy. As those newly independent colonists contemplated what institutions their government needed, Hamilton wrote to the people of the state of New York in Federalist Paper No. 11 with a necessity to create a navy. 

To quote Hamilton, the man, not the Broadway musical, and I quote, “There can be no doubt that the continuance of the Union under an efficient government would put it in our power at a period not very distant to create a navy,” unquote. He recognized that a strong navy was necessary to protect our fledgling nation’s commercial maritime enterprises, which in turn would allow a navy in our nation to flourish as it expanded its role to ensure maritime commerce flows unencumbered, as our sailors and our Marines do today in the Red Sea. 

Secretary Hamilton understood that we as a maritime nation needed to establish ourselves from the outset as a maritime power, both commercial and naval, and so today, here in Hamilton’s home city and state, we are proud to announce that we will be naming our Navy’s future Constellation Class Frigate, FFG-66, the USS Hamilton, in honor of his contributions and advocacy for our nation’s maritime services. 

USS Hamilton, once constructed, will sail around the world representing the freedom and ideals its namesake spent in his entire life advocating for, and we are excited to sail alongside the U.S. Coast Guard’s Cutter Hamilton, one of our nation’s national security cutters, as our sea services work together alongside our international allies and partners to confront the common challenges we face throughout the maritime domain. 

Alexander Hamilton lived a life dedicated to something greater than himself, ideals he was willing to sacrifice his life for on the fields of battle across our nation. Let his life work in commitment to democratic principles invigorate those of us here this morning as a poignant reminder that we carry on his legacy for service and sacrifice. 

Ladies and gentlemen, may God bless our sailors, our Marines, our Coast Guard, Coast Guard men and women, and their families around the world, and may God continue to grant this city and our nation and its leaders fair winds and following seas. Thank you so much.

Commissioner Hendon: Let’s have another round of applause for our sea services, everybody. Come on. Let’s do it. We can do this. We can do this. We can do this.

That concludes our program for today. You don’t have to go home and you don’t have to get out of here yet. We have the place at 11 a.m. Please continue to enjoy yourself that and to learn more about the New York City Department of Veterans Services, please visit NYC.gov/vets. That’s NYC.gov/vets. To learn more about the 2024 Fleet Week activities, type Fleet Week New York in your Internet browser and click the first link titled Fleet Week New York. Then the 2024 events. Once again, just type Fleet Week New York in your browser. 

Once we conclude, we’ll ask that our senior most uniformed leaders from the Navy, the Coast Guard and the Marine Corps join us on stage for a quick photo. Once again, join with us as we celebrate this entire season. Happy Fleet Week, everyone. Thank you so much.

May 23, 2024 Manhattan New York

Source : Midtown Tribune news – NYC.gov

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