NEW YORK (FOX 5 NEWS) - The USS Intrepid welcomed hundreds of veterans and active duty service members Monday morning for a salute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
It was fitting that hundreds of veterans boarded the Intrepid for Memorial Day. It's on that steel where so many American heroes walked during WWII, where many didn’t make it home. They were honored as well as thousands of others.
Memorial Day was a reminder of the men and women who have given their lives, so that we can live free.
“I’m paying my respects for the boys who paid the supreme sacrifices, and I’ll do that as long as I live,” said Armando Chick Galella, Pearl Harbor survivor.
Galella is one of hundreds of service members who boarded the Intrepid on Monday to honor the men and women who never had the chance to be called veterans.
For some, specific names come to mind. “I'm thinking of my friend John Huran who was with me at Pearl Harbor. He got killed that day- he was just 23 years old. He's the one I’m thinking about,” said Galella.
“Primarily on days like this, I'm thinking about my dad and other service members who paid the ultimate price,” said Deputy Sector Commander of the NY Coast Guard, Thomas Morchan.
Also on board the Intrepid were Admiral Phil Davidson and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“That's one thing we should remember on Memorial Day- that there are some bonds that are stronger than our differences,” said de Blasio.
Following a wreath toss and the unfurling of a 100 foot flag, there one more moment of silence and solidarity.
It was a final chance for everyone on board to say thank you- not only to the fallen heroes who step into harm’s way for our safety, but to the families who have made the sacrifice too…
“This day is usually the hardest day of the year for the combat veterans, but it's necessary. The pain we feel in recalling memories and fallen soldiers it serves as a penance; and it's also a constant reminder of what I do every day is a direct reflection of the soldiers who didn't make it,” said Combat Medic veteran Oswaldo Pereira.
A lot of the veterans on board continued to emphasize that Memorial Day is not about them- it's about the men and women who paid the ultimate price for this country. They said those are the true heroes.