The 2014 Veterans Day Celebration & Grand Re-Launch of the SS Red Oak Victory can only be described as a huge success! There was singing, local dignitaries, a fake broken campaign bottle, story time, great food, and great people!
The morning began with the JACs, a 40s style singing group, who welcomed guests to the Rigger’s Loft beginning at 10:30. The ceremony was opened at 11:00am by RMA Vice-President Jeff Wright, who welcomed all the guests and presided over the bell ringing to honor those who have passed over in 2014. The ceremony continued with George Miller’s aide Barbara Johnson presenting an American flag that flew over the Capital building in Washington DC on November 9, 2014 to mark the 70th anniversary of when construction began on the SS Red Oak Victory. Next, John Gioia offered his remarks and thanks to our country’s brave veterans.
The RMA was so honored to have one-time crew member Robert (Bob) Di Chiara, Sr. join us from Singer Island, Florida as the highlight of the program! Bob began his career on the SS Red Oak Victory by washing pots and pans, however, he quickly decided to spend his free time on the Bridge as he was hoping to quickly be reassigned up there. He got his wish and finished his career on the ship as a 3rd class Signalman. We were honored to interview Bob at the Richmond Museum of History the day before the ceremony. You can view of clip of his interview on You Tube here (courtesy of Ms. Lana Husser). Bob spoke for about 10 minutes to an enthralled crowd and by the end of his recollections you could hear a pin drop in the room as everyone was on the edge of their seat listening to him. Bob’s stories about life aboard the ship were priceless and we are so happy he literally came across the County to share them.
Many other Veteran’s oriented community organizations helped us mark the occasion as well including the Richmond Veterans Resource Center, Richmond Artist Lady Cali/Alexis Williams, Our Angels, Rosie the Riveter National Historical Park, Chevron Richmond Veterans Initiative, Richmond Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Richmond Community Foundation! Thank you to all of the community organizations that helped honor our local veterans!
The ceremony in the Rigger’s Loft concluded with a re-enactment of the launch of the SS Red Oak Victory and the festivities were then shifted to the SS Red Oak Victory. Guests were given a carnation to throw over the side of the ship as a remembrance to those Veterans gave all to preserve our freedoms. Lunch was served and children’s story time took place after the conclusion of the ceremony.
Thanks to our sponsor (Chevron Richmond), all our community partners, the media, and our friends for joining us! See you next year!