NEW YORK -- "If we let anxiety keep us in our homes, the terrorists will have won without firing a shot. We as New Yorkers need to play a crucial role; we must not fall victim to fear."
These were the words of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as he urged hundreds gathered Monday aboard the historic USS Intrepid to do their part in the war on terrorism, "that began here in New York City," by not living in fear.
The audience included service members, veterans, citizens and families of troops who have lost their lives in the war on terrorism. All gathered to celebrate Memorial Day and to pay tribute to the men and women who have made the supreme sacrifice for their country.
The Fleet Week ceremony included a presentation of colors, a performance by the Navy Region Band Northeast, aircraft flyovers, a 21-gun salute and the unfurling of a giant American flag.
"It is our armed forces heritage and courage that has guaranteed our future," said Vice Admiral Gary Roughead, commander, Second Fleet. "These young men and women are proud, determined, passionate Americans, and they will not be denied."
Hundreds stood and watched as Bloomberg led ceremony participants in tossing Memorial Day wreaths into the Hudson River from the deck of the USS Intrepid, while soldiers fired 21 shots toward the sky.
Attention was then turned toward the aft of the ship, where veterans and active duty military personnel from all branches of the armed forces stood shoulder-to-shoulder and joined in unfurling a 100-foot American flag across the deck of the ship while Navy F/A-18 Hornets flew overhead in the Missing Man Formation.
"They live and die knowing what a precious gift we as Americans have. God bless them, and God bless America," Bloomberg said.
He added by expressing the importance in educating youth about the significance of the holiday and the country's heritage.
"Do not forget Memorial Day. Take the time to bring your children out to our beautiful parks and monuments, and teach them to honor our heroes of the past," Bloomberg said. "Above all, take the time to honor all those who stand in harms way to protect these rights and our way of life."