NEW YORK – President Bush, marking Veterans Day at a Manhattan pier that is home to the World War II aircraft carrier Intrepid, praised veterans past and present who have defended U.S. liberty.
"Veterans have inspired me," Bush said in a speech Tuesday before attending rededication ceremony of the Intrepid Air, Sea and Space Museum. "I was raised by a veteran. I appreciate the commitment to our country that the veterans have made."
"Our nation is blessed because our liberties have been defended by brave men and women in the past and we are blessed to have brave men and women defend our liberties today."
The Intrepid returned last month to the pier where it has served for 24 years as a military and space museum. In late 2006, the carrier was moved for extensive repairs and improvements costing nearly $120 million.
Launched in 1943 as one of the Navy's then-new Essex-class attack carriers, the USS Intrepid figured in six major Pacific theater campaigns including Leyte Gulf, the war's greatest naval battle. It survived five Japanese kamikaze planes and a torpedo but lost 270 crew members in combat.
After World War II, the Intrepid saw service in the Korean and Vietnam wars and was twice a recovery ship for NASA astronauts before it was decommissioned and mothballed in a Philadelphia shipyard — slated for demolition until rescued by New York real estate developer and philanthropist Zachary Fisher.
In Arlington, Va., meanwhile Vice President Dick Cheney placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in the traditional Veterans Day ceremony