BALTIMORE — The U.S. Coast Guard on Saturday honored Alex Haley, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "Roots," by commissioning a cutter in his name--the first military vessel named for a journalist.
"By seeking his own roots, Alex Haley enlarged the world for millions of Americans, connecting us with a history we thought was lost," said Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater, who was the keynote speaker at an invitation-only ceremony at the Coast Guard yard.
Among those in attendance were members of Haley's family, Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D-Md.) and actors from the television miniseries based on "Roots."
Haley, who died in 1992, spent 20 years in the Coast Guard, rising from ship's steward to become the first head of the Guard's public affairs office.
The yard recently completed an 18-month, $20-million overhaul on the 283-foot cutter, formerly the Navy rescue and salvage vessel Edenton. It will be based in Kodiak, Alaska, and used for fisheries enforcement and search and rescue missions.
"Alex would have been so happy today because he loved the Coast Guard. And by honoring him, it shows you also loved him," said Doris Haley, wife of Alex Haley's brother George. George Haley, the ambassador to Gambia, couldn't be present for the ceremony.