USS Intrepid ‘Salute to Freedom’ Gala Looks to the Future
Among the 650 black tie civilians, admirals, generals, officers and enlisted personnel aboard the hangar deck of the USS Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum for the May 21 “Salute to Freedom” 24th Gala were event co-chair Bruce Mosler of Cushman & Wakefield, Fisher Brothers chairman emeritus Arnold Fisher, Howard Lutnick of Cantor Fitzgerald, and Jack Jacobs, (US ARMY Retired) the only living Jewish recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Museum president Susan Marenoff-Zausner touted the Intrepid Museum’s charge to not only honor past heroes but to ”harness the lessons of history — in order to educate and inspire future generations [to launch them] toward greater achievements in science, engineering and aviation —integral to the Intrepid’ s history.” She welcomed Commander of the U.S. Fleet Forces Admiral Phlip Davidson, USN who leads over 125 ships, 1200 aircraft and 103,000 personnel and is responsible for providing combat-ready forces forward to Numbered Fleets and Combatant Commanders around the globe. “It has been a singular highlight of my career to bring the Fleet back to New York City” said the admiral who admitted: “In my 33 years—believe it or not— this is my first time [in New York] and Fleet Week.”
Dubbing recipient of the 2015 Intrepid Salute Award Ursula M. Burns, chairman and CEO, Xerox Corporation and the first African American CEO to head a Fortune 500 company “a hero and role model, Maranoff lauded her for her “dedication to advancing educational equity, especially in science, technology, engineering and math.”
Kenneth Fisher, Senior Partner, Fisher Brothers and Co-Chairman of the Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museum and Chairman and CEO of the Fisher House Foundation [a not-for-profit organization that constructs “comfort homes” for families of hospitalized military personnel and veterans. Founded in 1990 by his late uncle Zachary Fisher] declared: “Fleet Week is about celebrating your service, but also about honoring your sacrifice and the sacrifices of all military families. Because we as a nation must also take an oath to care for those wounded or ill, care for their families should they not come home.”
Fisher presented the 2015 Intrepid Freedom Award to Admiral William H. McRaven, USN [Ret.] and currently Chancellor, The University of Texas System saying of him, “we honor a man who for 37 years [as a Navy SEAL] fought for his country and for the ideals of liberty and democracy.”
The Intrepid Museum would never have been were it not for Zachary Fisher (1910-1999), the son of a Russian immigrant bricklayer, who went on to become a construction worker, then a builder, philanthropist, and rescuer of the USS Intrepid from the scrap heap. Fisher was a supporter of Israel and a contributor the United Jewish Appeal. When 241 Marines were killed in the 1981 barracks bombing in Beirut, Fisher sent each of the victims’ children — 113 of them — $10,000 for college. Six years later when a gun-turret explosion killed 47 sailors aboard the battleship “Iowa,” Fisher sent $25,000 to each family that had lost a son.
I first met Zachary Fisher in the early 1990’s as he sat on a chair on a deck of the Intrepid being thanked by a long line of admirers and tearful parents of fallen heroes. When I mentioned that I wrote for The Forward, he beamed…”Ah, Der Forverts” and we concluded our conversation in Yiddish.