Crowds Gather To See Cole Off

They packed "the point" to witness history and help send a message about American resolve. Flags flew everywhere. Sharon Stringer brought one of the biggest.

"From that distance over there in the channel, you know, we're going to look kind of small. So I wanted them to see what I was standing for. So I got my big flag here," Stringer said.

Those who lined the shore represent American pride and patriotism. Sonny and Amelia Blackwell waved and wore their red, white and blue. He's a retired shipyard worker.

"Well it's a great day seeing that boat back in the water again after being bombed and whatever. You know, a great feeling seeing it go back out in one piece," Sonny said.

"It means we love America. And it means freedom," Amelia said.

Norman Larson understands the cost of that freedom. He was stationed aboard the Cole when the ship was attacked. Seeing her return to the fleet affirms his confidence in America's military.

"You can hit us, but we're going to hit you back. You're not going to keep us down. We're the greatest navy in the world, and there's nothing that's going to change that," Larson said.

As the Cole moved into the ship channel, flags waved as the crowd paused to remember the moment. They came out this morning to help display America's determination and be a part of something special.

"I just want to be a part of history. I want to be a part of history and see the Cole off," Moss Point resident Shirley Oatis said.

The restored USS Cole moved quickly out to sea. Proud Americans who watched her leave felt good inside.

The Jackson County Chamber of Commerce passed out American flags at the send off celebration.