The commissioning of the USS New York – and the 7.5 tons of steel from the World Trade Center wreckage forged in its hull – was a special moment for New York City and its residents. This was especially true for Legionnaire Sean Powers.
The commander of Post 1870 – which is housed on the USS Intrepid, next to where the New York has been docked since Nov. 2 – Powers was a member of the New York Police Department on Sept. 11, 2001.
"Having visited the World Trade Center when it was the World Trade Center, having been there after it was attacked ..." Powers said. "The same steel I'd walked up to take in a beautiful view of Manhattan, the same steel I crawled through looking for survivors, and it's the same steel that's now going to lead this ship into battle. I get a little choked up.
"They've turned it into this symbol of this city that we're going to use to bring the fight to those who brought the fight to us."
Post 1870 member Johnny Cardona, a deputy inspector and 21-year member of NYPD, said the ship has a special meaning to not only New York residents, but to anyone who visits the city.
"It means that after the dust settled, we're still standing," he said. "Hope. Determination. It's sort of a bit of closure for us. It means that this incident did happen, but it turned out good for us. Just seeing the ship come in the harbor was unbelievable. I hear it every day – and not just from (New Yorkers) – but from tourists. We are the tourist capital of the world, (and) tourists come up to me and say they can't believe the symbol that this ship magnifies. We're proud of it. It's sort of closure for us to know that, ‘Hey, you know what? Something's still standing."
Post 1870 Legionnaire Ralph Slane – who helped organize a dinner earlier in the week for 30 Marines serving on the ship – summed up its effect on the city. "New York is a part of that ship," he said. "And New York continues to live on through that ship."