EditorialIt is a star of sea, strong with steel that was driven through the heart of the city on 9/11.
It is a floating fortress created with the sole purpose of keeping this city, this state and this nation safe.
It is a commitment to future generations, as expressed in its motto: "Strength forged through sacrifice. Never forget."
It is the New York, a 25,000-ton, San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship. And today, for the first time, it is due to enter the state and city for which is it named, and from which its crew draws inspiration.
Commanded by Curt Jones, from upstate Binghamton, the ship has a complement of some 360, among them several dozen from New York - including a handful from the five boroughs.
Throughout the 684-foot-long vessel are tributes to and reminders of the metropolis whose name it bears. The main passageway is dubbed Broadway. Its galley features a pre-9/11 skyline in neon. The ship's crest references the Statue of Liberty, the World Trade Center, the NYPD and the FDNY.
At the prow - prominent and proud like the twin towers themselves - is a 19-foot-long bow stem, forged from 7.5 tons of Trade Center steel.
Up from its homeport in Norfolk, Va., the ship will begin its New York odyssey with entry into the harbor about 7:30 this morning. At 8, there will be a 21-gun salute at Ground Zero. Then the New York will sail up the Hudson to the George Washington Bridge, turn around about 9:30 and dock at Pier 88, near 48th St.
Along the route, thousands of New Yorkers are expected to greet their namesake. Prominent will be cops, firefighters and other responders, people who survived the conflagration and survivors of those who did not - brave souls to whom the ship is a floating memorial.
For the living heroes and for 9/11 families, special privileges are due. They will have exclusive onboard visiting hours, a private reception and tickets to the shipboard commissioning ceremony Saturday.
But the public at large is also welcome. Between Nov. 4 and Nov. 11 - fittingly, Veterans Day - the ship will be open for all (check ussny.org for exact dates and times). And what an honor it will be to be part of the welcoming throng today along the banks of the Hudson.
So come out and salute. The New York is our ship, its crew our kindred spirits. Be proud.