NEW YORK CITY — The return of Fleet Week in New York City presented U-Haul with another chance to thanks those who deserve it most. It also brought back the second annual Tribute Journey Fleet Week afternoon tea as part of the 2017 festivities. This unique event was held in honor of the Sea Services and was proudly sponsored by U-Haul.
For more than 30 years, Fleet Week has offered a platform for civilians to learn about the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard. This is done while paying tribute to those in uniform. U-Haul, founded by a WWII Navy veteran, is recognized repeatedly as one of the top veteran-friendly employers in the U.S. It was honored to once again play a role in this year’s Fleet Week through the sponsorship of this special event.
In addition to honoring the Sea Services, the Tribute Journey Fleet Week afternoon tea also paid tribute to Gold Star mothers, fathers, family members and senior officers, as well as veterans and veterans-services representatives.
Kathryn Cross, U.S. Navy Gold Star mother, artist and founder of the Tribute Journey said, “Our Tribute Journey Fleet Week afternoon tea provides an opportunity for Gold Star parents and families to unite with the military’s most senior officers and join together without a schedule, ceremony or media to acknowledge the lives dedicated to service of our country. It’s a unique opportunity that allows us nobility and dignity. Everyone deserves to recognize and reflect on the close bond linking our military families.”
Tribute Journeys, carried out by Cross and U-Haul Team Members, are tours of appreciation for our veterans and current military service members. This occurs through the hand delivery of custom-made greeting cards. Illustrations and poetic verses are crafted by Cross and placed on cards printed at U-Haul headquarters in Phoenix.
Cross has been making cards for veterans since 2009. It’s a labor of love she began in the memory of her son, OSSN Tyler J. Connely, who gave his life for his country. Cross began the Tribute Journey to communicate to service members, past and present, that we will not forget them.
“As Fleet Week and Memorial Day celebrations overlap, dear friends who share my journey as a Navy Gold Star mother gathered by my side to offer support and encouragement,” Cross said. “We attended memorials together and welcomed our guests for the Second Annual Tribute Journey Fleet Week afternoon tea.”
The Pembroke Room at The Lowell Hotel, a landmark of the Upper East Side, proved again to be the perfect place to host the tea.
U-Haul area district vice president Nick Marra and marketing company presidents Jeff Sonberg, Will Wolff and Patrick Keefe attended. Sonberg welcomed and delivered opening remarks on behalf of U-Haul.
“Our afternoon tea served is an official welcome and thank you from U-Haul to Gold Star mothers, fathers and family members, as well as to senior officers from the U.S. and Canada participating in Fleet Week 2017,” Sonberg said. “It was great to see many familiar faces and share such a memorable afternoon with them. Everyone in attendance had a chance to relax, meet peers and VIPs, and drink tea.”
Eric Dupaix (director of Operations at The Lowell), Victor Martinez (Chief of Protocol for the Navy Region Mid-Atlantic) and Loree Sutton (Commissioner of Veterans Affairs for New York City) also addressed guests. Commissioner Sutton gave heartfelt thanks to Cross and all the Gold Star mothers, fathers and family members in attendance.
Guests enjoyed English tea sandwiches, fruit tarts, French pastries, macaroons, herbal and fruit infusions, and a selection of teas. Cross gave everyone in attendance a special Tribute Journey Challenge coin.
In closing, Cross remarked, “It was a wonderful afternoon tea with friends. Cheers to you all! None of this would be possible without you. With sincere appreciation, I thank you all for your service. And thank you Team U-Haul for your incredible generosity and support of our efforts.”
Have you thanked a veteran lately? Share your experience in the comments!