The New York came to life Saturday, becoming the Navy's newest warship - and a proud symbol of fortitude.
The $1 billion amphibious transport dock carries 7.5 tons of steel from the World Trade Center in her bow stem.
"The New York will be a visible testament to our resilience," said Navy Secretary Ray Mabus as the first watch was set and hundreds of sailors and Marines ran onto the decks of the ship, a tradition signaling the official commissioning of the vessel.
Cmdr. Curt Jones, a native New Yorker, took command during an emotional ceremony at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum attended by more than 6,000 people, including Secretary of State Clinton, Gov. Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg.
"There is a lot of emotion that is associated with this ship for all of us," Jones said. "The steel that is in the bow of the ship, that motivates us literally every day in what we do."
The ship, which has a crew of about 360 sailors, will be docked at Pier 88 until Thursday, when it heads to its home port at Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia.
"This ship has been the product of a lot of hard work," Paterson said. "It is not just named the New York - it IS New York."
Clinton said the New York will help the nation heal, more than eight years after the World Trade Center attack.
"In that steel, burned but unbroken, lives the spirit we saw on 9-11," she said. "Sometimes our pain can lead us to purpose."
Mike Petters is the president of Northrop Grumman, which built the ship in Avondale, La.
"We needed this ship," Petters said. "New York needed this ship. And America needed this ship."
For Carl Scheetz, a firefighter with Rescue 1 in Hell's Kitchen, the ship is a reminder of the city's strength.
"To me it's a show of resiliency to the whole tragedy that happened," he said. "The crew members are great. I met a Marine and went to say 'Thank you' to him. He said, 'No, sir, thank you very much.'
"We have a lot in common," Scheetz said.