Today kicks off Fleet Week, which, for me, is the official kick-off of summer. The parade of ships began at 11 a.m. up the Hudson River, and includes 13 vessels, including the USS Iwo Jima, a 45-000-ton naval assault helicopter carrier, also known as a “Gator Freighter.” Many ships are open for free tours at the Passenger Ship Terminal on the West Side and at Staten Island’s Stapleton Pier. If you’ve never climbed aboard a carrier and seen one for yourself, it’s pretty remarkable.
While there are always long lines, here are some tips to remember:
- Lines for smaller vessels are not as crowded.
- Wear sunscreen and bring a hat because when you stand on line facing water and steel, both reflecting the sun, your skin will show it.
- Drink plenty of water.
If you are on active duty, please note that during Fleet Week the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust is offering 2-for-1 admission from May 20-27 to you and your families. This is a promotion put together with the U.S. Navy and NYC Visit.
It is no coincidence that Fleet Week coincides with Memorial Day, a day in which we honor those who have died while serving our country. This day took on new meaning for me when we worked on the Ours To Fight For exhibition, and I began to see that soldiers were not strangers who go to war, they are neighbors, relatives, friends of friends, and those who made choices I don’t think I could make myself. There are people in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and around the globe serving our country, many in harm’s way each and every day. I wish for the safe return of these men and women.