Navy Christens USNS John Lewis On Anniversary Of His Passing

Exactly one year after the death of revered statesman and civil rights icon Representative John Lewis, the US Navy christened a ship in his honor in San Diego Saturday morning.

The champagne bottle was shaken and popped as Oscar-nominated actress Alfre Woodard christened the US Navy’s newest fleet oiler, John Lewis.

“May God bless this ship and all who sail in her,” Woodard said.

More than 30 congresspeople came to her christening ceremony in San Diego Saturday morning. Among the distinguished guests was the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.

“While John was a man of great courage and a fighter, he was always about non-violence,” Pelosi said.

The day was incredibly emotional for Lewis’ family, many of whom were in attendance.

“I always was proud, from the time I was a little girl and looking at him and history books and going to school with my chest stuck out and saying, ‘Hey, that’s my uncle!’ And now here 30 years later, to be a part of this and witness this is just amazing,” Lewis’ niece, Rosalynn King, said.

Fleet oilers act as a supply lifeline for navy ships around the world, delivering fuel, water, and cargo. Many, including the ship’s sponsor, Alfre Woodard, said it was fitting that the tanker was named after Lewis.

“We are a nation hungering for justice, and he gave us the sustenance of purposeful action that feeds and replenishes that hunger,” Woodard said.

For more than 30 years, the self-proclaimed poor boy from Alabama fought for the rights of others. That legacy will now live on as she sails across the world.

“I would say to him, ‘Wow unc, you did it! You’re going to live on forever!'” King teared up. “I’m sorry. But it’s just amazing, and I am proud to have known him and to have the relationship with him that I did.”

“Leaders like Representative Lewis taught us that diversity of backgrounds and experiences help contribute to the strength of our nation. There is no doubt that the future Sailors aboard this ship will be galvanized by Lewis’ legacy,” Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Harker said in a Pentagon news release.


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