By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Drew Verbis, U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs
Sailors, Marines, civil service mariners and Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO) staff members aboard the Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20), held a combined Veterans Day and Remembrance Day ceremony while transiting the Mediterranean Sea, Nov. 11, 2019.
“Today we pause to honor the men and women who fought to preserve our nations, our societies and all the places we call home,” said Capt. Cassidy Norman, commanding officer of the Mount Whitney. “We have many to thank for protecting our society, our families and our freedom, including many who now serve aboard Mount Whitney as civilians; and their service will not be forgotten.”
Veterans Day is a federal holiday that began with the celebration of Armistice Day at the end of WWI, Nov. 11, 1918. An act of Congress in 1954, changed the name to "Veterans Day", with President Dwight D. Eisenhower calling on all U.S. citizens to observe and remember the sacrifices of those who served their country.
“We can honor veterans by continuing to make the U.S. military the most respected institution in our society,” said Norman. “We are here to continue the effort of those who served before us by inspiring the people of our country to support us. We are here to continue to serve with undeniable fighting spirit for ourselves, for our families, for our freedoms, but also in memory of those we honor today; who gave us as a society, protection, and the chance to serve.”
Royal Naval Rear Adm. Guy Robinson, deputy commander, STRIKFORNATO, provided opening remarks for the ceremony. STRIKFORNATO is underway aboard Mount Whitney for exercise Trident Jupiter, certifying the command as a NATO expanded task force.
“I fully acknowledge that countries who are represented aboard Mount Whitney [for exercise Trident Jupiter], have their own traditions and different dates which they recognize the sacrifices of their people,” said Robinson. “I see this as an opportunity for us all to come together for a moment of reflection to remember, especially as a commander, that our actions have consequences.”
Many members of the crew appreciated the thanks they received from friends and family back home.
“Veterans Day is huge on social media and today my feed will be full of posts and pictures honoring service members,” said Interior Communications Electrician 2nd Class Alicia Carlton, from New Carlisle, Indiana. “I recognize that Veteran’s Day is more about honoring those who have served before me, but I appreciate my family and friends who are thinking of me while I’m serving overseas and I know the prayers that are coming my way.”
Mount Whitney, commissioned on Jan. 16, 1971, is the U.S. 6th Fleet and STRIKFORNATO flagship. Homeported in Gaeta, Italy, the ship operates with a combined crew of U.S. Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners.
U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied, joint, and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.