SS United States National Celebration event 7/1/2010 : A year in review PT 1

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This is our special feature in celebration of the news we have just heard of the Conservancy’s announcement that they are purchasing the SS United States thus saving her from destruction at the hands of the scrappers to be lost forever.

This is a victorious moment for us all ,
let us all give the conservancy cheers and all o
f our full support for this effort would not have been possible if it were not for the many hands and people who have and continue to serve this valiant cause.

Yet as we’ve said , the battle is not over yet still millions is needed for her full restoration and for her to be reborn to her glory as a museum and a center for peace.

I last year was one of the lucky few who was able to have access with the great vessel behind the gates and up close and personal to feature my report to a world audience on Maritime Matters eye witness report section.

I did a full photographic survey of the ship’s exterior ,
as I stated she is dire need of repairs and in serious decay after decades of neglect at the hands of many who did not care for her true value as the flagship of the US Merchant marine and as the fastest passenger ship ever built by an American ship yard.

She is the last and only of her kind left in the world.

2 years in review :

It seems like only yesterday when back in 2008 , I attended a special meeting in New York where Mark Perry gave a speech on the situation of the ship and screened the documentary to the attendees.

It was there I started doing coverage on the conservancy’s events and became a supporter of their great cause , now in 2011 they have struck a monumental victory in their long and hard battle to save our forgotten flagship from further decay .
I remember looking on youtube at a few videos of the SS United States and seeing crazy comments from people whom called the cause hopeless and said to give it up and scrap the illustrious ship , a shame how some have lost hope and the ignorance of those.

The truth is that what makes this mission so challenging is that the general American public of today does not know of the existence of the SS United States , a forgotten monument she has become among the modern general public.
She is only known by the people who remember her from the past generations and those who have kept in touch with maritime history and who have followed up with current events .

Our mission now is to let the general public know of her and to ensure she has a bright future.

7/1/2010 Continued :
As the day progressed I witnessed the main ceremonies go underway and the crowds greeting Mr.Lenfest , the Mayor and all the top officials present .
You could feel the joyous feeling in the air as many happy people celebrated and gathered in unity for this special once in a lifetime celebration ,
the crowds gathered in greater numbers as the sun set upon us all for the lighting of her funnels and bridge as nightfall came .
It was a magical event as the crowd cheered and ran to snap photos and video, I witnessed it all yet an event of unsurpassed beauty and awe was before me as the day came to an end & the dawn of a new one rose .
Overnight stay / 11pm-5:00 am est :
It was aprox 4:30 am , I had stayed overnight in Philly to enjoy the rest of the night in the downtown section, afterward I landed at a 24/7 diner blocks away from the Penn’s landing site where I dined for a much needed fresh cup of coffee and to try out a bowl of genuine French Onion soup.
I stayed and rested after all the action that had happened from the celebration and my major trek from New York the previous day also took it’s toll on me ,
I watched the news on the TV as the morning news anchors announced coverage of yesterdays celebration back at the Ikea store ,
the waitress of the diner saw my anchor shirt and my white jacked as a clear sign where I had just come from ,
I told the waitress of my travels and made it a long story short .
I remember the waitresses as they looked at me so curious and fascinated at the topic in the wee hours of the night.
All I can say is Philly has it’s crazy magic indeed.
as I watched the news you heard the usual bad news and local news …. the feeling was that of being on another planet sitting in a 24/7 hide out among all the travelers , truckers , drifters and touristst whom were dining there after a long night either partying or just visiting .

Then the report came on the 5:00 am news ,
timeless as it was everyone looking at the SS United States as word spread of the Conservancy’s valiant efforts to save the local monument as the ship has become since her arrival to Philadelphia in 1996.
I of course pulled out my camera to record it all for it will never come again , a moment in time so classic it was.

As the blue yet haze and morning summer sun rose over Philly at the crack of dawn , I ventured off back to the SS United States to witness a once in a lifetime moment ,
it was the first sunrise she had after the announcement of her saving from the scrappers by the Conservancy.

The summer sunrise was amazing , so beautiful as the light shined upon the great ship as the wind blew and her American flag graced her mast in the sun light.

I was snapping away awed by the sight I was witnessing ,
it was 5:30 am I was the only soul on the streets just myself and the cars passing as I was capturing a once in a lifetime sight the world has never seen and would never see unless I captured it there as the sun rose over Philly and the SS United States , our lady in waiting who has been given a second chance at life and has survived over half a century since she was built by Gibbs & Cox ,
Gibb’s finest creation shined in the light as a testament to American industry and modern shipbuilding.

As a reporter , it is a great honor to serve the cause along side Ms.Susan Gibbs and the Conservancy to save her Grandfathers legacy and to restore her to her former glory.

As the sun rose , the sun’s golden rays shined on her superstructure ,
her true form awakened and illuminated , even in her decayed state she is still a marvel to look upon and to cherish.
I kept snapping away taking as many shots as I could , I then took a few video clips of everything unfolding before me ,
after it was done it was time to bid her farewell until the next time I visited Philly to see another historic ship in peril , the USS Olympia the oldest
cruiser still afloat in the world.
She has not been dry docked since the 40’s and is in dire need of repair ,
it is easy to say Philadelphia is the city home to many of the most illustrious ships in waiting including the USS John F Kennedy docked in the Navy facility not too far from Penn’s landing.
As I departed Penn’s landing I looked upon the Big U one last time then I set off.
It was a beautiful day for all of us ,
yet what I had was history to be remembered for the ages , a new history that was recorded for the world to see and enjoy.
Now I see the end result , the ship’s future we can say is bright but as we’ve said many times the battle is not over yet .. we still have more challenges to face int he coming months.
I am calling upon all supporters to lend a hand to the conservancy for the final restoration of the SS United States.

Farewell everyone ,
that’s all for now.

Stay tuned for more news here on Liveboat USA.

Byron Huart signing

Special Thanks to the SS United States Conservancy
for everything and making this all possible.

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