Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Transportation & Infrastructure
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Published on March 29, 2024
USNS Harvey Milk Docking in San Francisco Marks Historic Tribute to Gay Rights IconSource: Navy Media Content Services, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The USNS Harvey Milk, a naval ship named after the pioneering civil rights leader and openly gay San Francisco politician Harvey Milk, has made a momentous maiden voyage, docking in San Francisco Bay on Thursday afternoon. The vessel, a John Lewis-class oiler tasked with refueling other ships at sea, sailed into the bay to great significance, passing under the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. According to CBS News Bay Area, the event was live-streamed for the public to witness this historic moment.

Flown during the Korean War aboard the USS Kittiwake (ASR-13), Harvey Milk's naval career ended under less than honorable circumstances due to allegations of fraternization. It was later elevated to an icon of gay rights after an assassination while serving in public office. Having the USNS Harvey Milk visit its namesake's city is a tribute to his legacy, noted Navy Media Officer Brian O'Rourke. "To have this ship come to San Francisco is a testament to his legacy," O'Rourke told CBS News Bay Area.

A poignant ceremony will occur on Friday at Pier 30/32, where officials will honor the ship and Harvey Milk. Following the event, local veterans will receive recognition as a part of the National Vietnam War Veterans Day celebrations. As informed by the San Francisco Fleet Week Association, Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro has extended his gratitude for the ship's visit to San Francisco, aligning with the commitment to recognize civil rights leaders through such dedication.

The ceremony also doubles as an opportunity to extend the nation's thanks to those who served during the Vietnam War. Veterans from the Bay Area will be presented with official lapel pins, symbolizing the country's appreciation for their service, no matter their deployment location during the Vietnam War. "All were called to serve, none could self-determine where they were stationed, and all were seen in the same way by a country that could not separate the war from the warrior, as we do today," the San Francisco Fleet Week Association stated.

After the ceremonies, the ship will set sail for its first mission in the Middle East. Those interested in attending the ceremony honoring the ship and veterans were required to register due to pier security regulations.