By Lt. Cmdr. Billy R. Davis
Well now that we are here in New York City, it is time to get down to business of telling the story of the Pre-Commissioning Unit New York to the rest of the world. While our arrival was the launching point for New York City to meet New York it has been a delightful experience to watch this unfold.
I am repeatedly struck with the magnitude and impact of this ship and this city, we all know there is this special sense of connection and purpose that is inherent to this whole process. However, I am still a bit taken aback at times when I am brought face to face with what it really means.
My first example of this impact came before we even arrived in New York; while underway I had the opportunity to listen to a sailor share a story of how he lost a family member in the tragic event of 9/11.
As he explained how his feeling of commitment and resolve is renewed on a daily basis because the presence of World trade Center steel in his ship this enables him to carry forward his personal lost and at the same time forge a new legacy. To see and hear this up close is beyond my ability to express. The truth is this is not just about the arrival of a naval vessel, nor is just the continued legacy of a ship’s name; but this is about coping, healing, and I truly believe for many, many people it is about surviving.
What I am seeing and learning is this story is being played out over and over again. While the individual may change, the essence is still the same in the core of the story. I have seen it in the veterans, the survivors, the family members and the NYPD. The need to make this ship, and what it represents, tangible is vital to all those storytellers. It is the New York and all that it embodies that is the tangible, touchable, visual, and even emotional icon of not just surviving but overcoming the hurt and devastation of September 11, 2001.
For me the significance has been two-fold. The first has been the emotional process of confronting and dealing with how I felt and what this day in history meant to me. The second has been a bit more practical, being a part of this and seeing it so up close.
Seeing this healing, resolve, resilience and commemoration take shape as this ship is given life and character by both this crew and this wonderful city – New York!