NEW YORK -- Service members and New Yorkers gathered on the deck of the Intrepid Sea Air Space Museum to celebrate the opening of Fleet Week 2004, here today.
The celebration honors the men and women of the U.S. military and their families for the sacrifices they have made for the nation.
"Millions of young men and women put themselves in harm's way everyday in the name of democracy," said Marvin Scott, senior correspondent, WB-11 News at 10, and guest speaker during the ceremony. "The spirit and dedication of these incredible service members is truly something to see."
During the ceremony, over a dozen Navy and Coast Guard ships as well as ships from all over the world navigated their way into the New York Harbor during the Parade of Ships.
The visiting vessels will be open for free public tours from 1until 4 p.m. daily, from Thursday through Tuesday. In addition, there will be military demonstrations, athletic competitions and many other activities over the course of the seven-day celebration.
One highlight of the week's activities is the Memorial Day ceremony held on the flight deck of the Intrepid. Veterans and active duty military personnel from all five branches of the armed services join in the museum's tribute to the men and women who have made the supreme sacrifice for their country.
The ceremony will include the playing of "Taps", a ceremonial wreath laying, a 21-gun salute, the unfurling of a 100-foot American flag and a flyover of military aircraft in the missing man formation.
Other events scheduled for the week include, stem to stern relay race and tug-of-war crew competitions, live demonstrations of military tactics, and the Best Chow Competition.
The people of New York greatly appreciate the sacrifices of today's service members during the ongoing War on Terrorism, according to Arnold Fisher, chairman of the board for the Intrepid Foundation; the organization which is a main sponsor for the week-long celebration.
"Two-and-a-half weeks ago, my wife and I visited the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany," Fisher said. "We visited with troops who had been wounded days before in Iraq, and all they could talk about was getting better so they could get back to their units to fight.... These young people are the finest in the world."