Andrea N. Goldstein has written for Task & Purpose since 2014, previously under the pseudonym Anna Granville. She served on active duty 2009-2016 as a naval officer, primarily with expeditionary forces. She holds a bachelor's degree in History from the University of Chicago, and is currently studying towards a M.A. in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University. She still roots for the New York Yankees, despite living in Boston. She is a Class of 2016 Tillman Scholar
Editor's note: This article first appeared in 2016
Ask any sailor or Marine who has experienced New York Fleet Week firsthand about their experience, and the first reaction is likely to be a knowing smirk.
Fleet Week comes to New York City for the week surrounding the Memorial Day weekend every spring. Suddenly, a city that has almost no military presence is filled with sailors and Marines in uniform.
I was born and raised in New York City. A visit to the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy as an elementary school kid left an indelible impression: The Navy was really cool. As a teenager, my parents forbade me to go anywhere near sailors during Fleet Week. As a 23-year-old ensign, I experienced Fleet Week in my summer whites as a member of the fleet.
Service members arriving on the half a dozen ships that participate will find that they will be berthed all over the city. My apologies to the ships stuck on Staten Island; you will have to take the ferry to get anywhere fun. The best deal is to be on the big-deck amphibious ship that gets to dock in midtown near Chelsea Piers .
Nearly everything during Fleet Week is free or steeply discounted for service members: Many of the Broadway shows offer free tickets, television programs bring service members into the audience, and the museums are all free.
Service members may also find that their meals and drinks are paid for by other customers, and that cover charges at popular nightlife hotspots are waived — and service members who have overnight liberty may find that the hotel they booked turned out to only be a place to leave a bag.
Here are some tips for surviving Fleet Week in your summer whites.
Infantrywoman. Tank commander. Aircraft door gunner. On March 1, to kick off Women’s History Month, the U.S. Marine Corps released a video depicting female Marines in serving in combat jobs, followed by photographs of female Marines from previous eras, with the tagline “For every woman who fights, there is a woman who fought for her.”
“M,” an Army veteran who deployed with Army Special Forces in the 1980s, cries when I ask her what she thinks the public should know about women veterans. She wipes tears from her eyes and laughs that she had put on mascara just for our interview. “Really, nothing different than male veterans,” she tells me, smiling and weeping at the same time. “We’re veterans. We served. We wore the uniform, and we were there to do our country’s bidding and we did it. … I think all veterans deserve that recognition and acknowledgement of service.”