Lynch, who was escorted by the ship’s captain, carried a cane – she is still recovering from injuries she suffered during her tour of duty. Carnival President Bob Dickinson said Lynch was chosen to honor "the thousands of men and women who serve in our armed forces." He called her "a symbol of perseverance and inner strength."
Present on stage during the naming ceremony were six Carnival employees who have served in the military since September 11. The group represented the sales, reservations, and information systems departments (three other employees from reservations who are on active duty were unable to attend).
As a thank-you for her involvement, Carnival made a donation – amount not revealed -- to the Jessica Lynch Foundation, which the former soldier founded to assist children of soldiers.
In addition to the ceremonial smashing of champagne against the hull (Lynch succeeded on the first try), Carnival Miracle’s inauguration ceremony included other festivities. The national anthems of both Finland – where the ship was built – and the U.S. were played. The military theme was particularly appropriate because Jacksonville has such a strong military presence.
The ship itself enjoys a pair of firsts. It's the first ever to be launched in Jacksonville and the first Carnival ship to sail from here.
Soon after the conclusion of the 2 p.m. ceremony, Carnival Miracle headed out on its maiden voyage – a three night sailing to the Bahamas.