PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii — Two relatives of the woman who christened the USS Oklahoma for its maiden voyage will be at the dedication of the ship's memorial today at Pearl Harbor. Lorena Cruce, daughter of Oklahoma's second governor, Lee Cruce, christened the ship on March 23, 1914. She traveled from Oklahoma to Camden, N.J., to throw a bottle of champagne against the ship's bow, and the family still has a plaque with a crocheted bag holding the remnants of the champagne bottle, said Lorena Cruce Maldonado, her granddaughter. "It was probably one of the most exciting days of her life,” Maldonado said of her grandmother. Gov. Cruce's wife died in childbirth, so his daughter, Lorena Cruce, often took the role of first lady, said Maldonado, a school teacher in California. Gov. Lee Cruce did not go to the launching of the ship, she said. Lee Cruce served as governor from 1911-1915. Maldonado and her uncle, Thomas Norris of Dallas, are in Hawaii for the dedication. Norris is the son of Lorena Cruce. Maldonado's aunt, Lee Shaw, a daughter of Lorena Cruce, has the plaque with the remnants of the champagne bottle, but was unable to attend, Maldonado said.
Looking backMaldonado's mother, the daughter of Lorena Cruce, died in April 2006. One day after her mother's death, Maldonado searched her grandmother's name on the Internet and a photograph of her christening the ship appeared on the screen. Norris said his grandfather did not go to the ship's launching because he was concerned that if he left the state, Lt. Gov. J.J. McAlester might do something not consistent with the governor's desires. "He was very much against the death penalty. He was against gambling of any kind,” Norris said of his grandfather. Norris said his mother always considered it an honor to have christened the ship. His mother was 19 at the time, Norris said. "My mother prided herself on that,” he added. While she was back east, she was introduced in the U.S. Senate and given a gavel. "She used to comment that as a humorous gesture she was given a gavel and became the first woman to call the United States Senate to order,” Norris said. Norris grew up Arizona and California, but attended the University of Oklahoma, earning a chemical engineering degree in 1966. His first job was with Conoco Oil Co. Maldonado said, "I feel very honored to be here and very grateful to the survivors (of the ship) for doing this (dedication).”
Lorena Cruce Maldonado is shown Thursday in Honolulu. Maldonado's grandmother christened the the USS Oklahoma. By John Clanton, The Oklaho
Dedication speakersAdm. Timothy Keating, U.S. Pacific Command; Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii; Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle; Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry; Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii; Rep. Mary Fallin, R-Oklahoma City; Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore; Assistant Secretary of the Interior Lyle Laverty; Lisa Ridge, granddaughter of an Oklahoma crew member killed that day; and Ed Vezey, a USS Oklahoma survivor