09/24/2013 08:26 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

USS Sequoia Cruises to Washington Navy Yard

2013-09-24-SequoiaWashNavyYard92313.JPGA very special moment of silence was held on board the former presidential yacht Sequoia on September 23. As we approached the Navy Yard, the yacht slowed down and turned to shore. We prayed silently for those who had been killed or wounded in the shooting rampage one week before. Our thoughts also turned to those brutalized in the shopping mall in Kenya, and in the church in Pakistan.

Our group consisted of wounded warriors from Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America, their friends, supporters, and many of us who care about them. This excursion was organized by Retired Navy Captain Kevin Wensing and media expert Jan Du Plain. Gary Silversmith, owner of Sequoia, generously donated these cruises over the 13 years he has owned it.

According to Jan Du Plain,

The Sequoia has been used or visited by every U.S. president from Herbert Hoover to Bill Clinton. It was the setting for such historic occasions as the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty negotiations between President Nixon and Soviet Premier Brezhnev, President Kennedy's last birthday party, and President Nixon's decision to resign. Since the September 11th attacks, the Sequoia has hosted cruises for hundreds of wounded warriors, military families, and dignitaries.

Gary Silversmith said, "We are proud to be able to do our small part to help our national process of healing. Our thanks to the Navy for giving us the opportunity to add the Navy Yard witnesses to the other men and women of our armed forces who will join us on this cruise."

It was a beautiful, crisp, sunny Washington day. The Yacht is docked at the Gangplank Marina in southwest Washington. I have had the honor of visiting the Sequoia many times, but it is always a thrill to visit the rooms, beds, chairs, and even the "heads" used by so many world leaders. It is amazing the U.S. government gave up this mini wooden, floating White House. Gary Silversmith has poured his passion and treasure into Sequoia. May it sale the Potomac for many more years!

Photo credit: Charles Sneiderman