As the sunlight waned on Memorial Day 2014, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory visited the U.S.S. North Carolina for the battleship’s 49th Annual Memorial Day Observance.
McCrory, along with U.S.S. North Carolina Battleship Commission Chairman Sam Southern, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources Secretary Susan Kluttz and U.S. Marine Corps Brigadier General Robert F. Castellvi addressed the crowd of hundreds gathered on the deck of the battleship. The crowd was largely comprised of active Armed Forces members, veterans and their families.
McCrory commended the state of North Carolina for its willing support of the country’s armed forces but said more could be done to help soldiers when they return home.
“Just because our returning veterans are now coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, the war has not left them and we must do everything we can in our powers to help them and their families,” McCrory said. “We will do everything we can in North Carolina to help them because North Carolina has a long reputation of being the most friendly military state in the United States of America and we are going to continue that in this administration.”
In February 2014 McCrory announced $500,000 would be included in his recommended fiscal year 2014-15 budget for the repair of the battleship’s hull and on Memorial Day he asked the crowd to call their representatives in support of the budget item.
McCrory, giving credit once more to his administration, also promoted the new veteran designation on a North Carolina driver’s license. All honorably discharged Armed Forces members may receive the designation.
U.S. Marine Corps Brigadier General Robert F. Castellvi, who is the commander of Camp Lejeune, among other bases in southeastern North Carolina, followed McCrory in lauding the state’s support of military families.
“This community has never hesitated to show us warmth and compassion to our warriors and their families,” Castellvi said. “It is days like today when you realize how great it is to be an American. While this holiday has taken many forms throughout history the goal has always been the same — to continually remind future generations that freedom is our most precious gift and has been bought at a very dear price.”
The ceremony concluded with the presentation of a memorial wreath by New Hanover County Commission Chairman Woody White and Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo. White and Saffo dropped the red, white and blue flowered wreath over the side of the battleship before it floated off into the Cape Fear River.
A 21-gun salute and the playing of taps followed in remembrance of the soldiers who died as members of the U.S. Armed Forces.