“It really is fitting that we honor John Lewis with this formidable ship, because John Lewis was a warrior. A person of the mottos of the Navy is ‘Semper Fortis’ — ‘Always Courageous’ — and John Lewis was in fact usually courageous,” mentioned Residence Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who led a congressional delegation to the celebration on Saturday. “This ship will be a beacon to the entire world reminding all who see it of the persistence and bravery of John Lewis.”

Lewis — the son of sharecroppers who survived a brutal beating by law enforcement all through a landmark 1965 march in Selma, Alabama — served as the US agent for Georgia’s 5th Congressional District for extra than 3 many years and was commonly noticed as a moral conscience of Congress mainly because of his decades-extended embodiment of the nonviolent battle for civil legal rights. The Democrat’s passionate oratory was backed by a lengthy file of action that involved, by his count, far more than 40 arrests whilst demonstrating versus racial and social injustice.

Associates of the late congressman’s spouse and children were also in attendance Saturday.

“On behalf of my beloved, uncle, the overall Lewis loved ones, we’re humbled and grateful for the christening of the USNS John Lewis,” mentioned Marcus Tyner, a nephew of Lewis. “We all agree that what is most important at this important time, and what will be sure to my uncle most is the passing of the John Lewis Voting Rights Monthly bill.”

The 742-foot-extended vessel is made to transfer gas to US Navy provider strike group ships working at sea, according to the Navy.

“Civil Services Mariners will work this ship with the skill, resolve and bravery exhibited by John Lewis. With this ship, our naval provider is better positioned to fulfill the challenges that lie ahead,” claimed Rear Admiral Michael Wettlaufer, commander of Military services Sealift Command.

Potential John Lewis-class oilers will be named for other outstanding civil rights leaders Harvey Milk, Earl Warren, Robert F. Kennedy, Lucy Stone and Sojourner Truth of the matter, according to the Navy.

The sponsor of the ship, the man or woman questioned as Navy tradition to Christen the ship, was actress and activist Alfre Woodard.

“Like the person himself, the presence of the USNS John Lewis, may it inspire justice as a mission, peace as a objective, and compassion as a way of moving. This woman revenue in a legacy as deep as the waters she traverses,” she explained.

A follower and colleague of Martin Luther King Jr., Lewis participated in lunch counter sit-ins, joined the Independence Riders in tough segregated buses and — at the age of 23 — was a keynote speaker at the historic 1963 March on Washington.

At age 25, Lewis assisted direct a march for voting rights on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, the place he and other marchers were met by greatly armed point out and nearby police who attacked them with golf equipment, fracturing Lewis’ skull. Visuals from that “Bloody Sunday” shocked the country and galvanized guidance for the Voting Legal rights Act of 1965, signed into regulation by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

The moment in Washington, he focused on combating versus poverty and supporting young generations by increasing education and wellbeing care. He also co-wrote a sequence of graphic novels about the civil rights motion, which won him a Nationwide Guide Award.

In 2011, just after additional than 50 several years on the front lines of the civil legal rights motion, Lewis obtained the nation’s optimum civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, positioned round his neck by then-President Barack Obama.

Lewis died on July 17, 2020, following a six-thirty day period fight with cancer. Celebrations of Lewis’ lifestyle took area across the region on Saturday.

CNN’s Rachel Janfaza, Suzanne Malveaux, Lauren Fox, Faith Karimi and Brandon Griggs contributed to this report.