by Rear Admiral Wendi B. Carpenter (U.S. Navy Retired), Executive Director, Captain Richard Phillips Lane Kirkland Maritime Trust
Each year on May 22nd, our Nation pauses to proudly celebrate National Maritime Day and the contributions of the maritime industry and its workforce.
Congress instituted National Maritime Day in 1933, to commemorate the first successful crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by a steam propulsion vessel, the Savannah.
Since the founding of our Nation, we have always been a great maritime nation, focused on the sea for commerce and for security. The U.S. Merchant Marine has been a critical component in our country’s foundation of economic prosperity and contributed to national security from the very earliest days. In so many ways, these seafarers have been behind the scenes, heroes of many conflicts and operations.
We all owe a great debt to our U.S. Merchant Marines. Ever vigilant and ready, more than 250,000 members of the American Merchant Marine served their country during World War II. Some records indicate more than 6,000 gave their last full measure and sacrificed their livesin the service of a greater cause. A staggering 800 U.S. merchant ships were sunk or damaged and hundreds of our U.S. Merchant Marines were detained as prisoners of war. We could not have achieved victory in World War II without the vital logistics lines perpetuated by this group.
Sadly, our World War II Merchant Marines have still not been fully recognized for their significant contributions to the Nation’s war efforts. Join your voice now with the many others who support approval of the well-deserved Congressional Gold Medal for the service and sacrifice of this wonderful group of unsung heroes.
Our U.S. Merchant Marine continues to ensure that our economy is ever able to deliver key goods and services, while supporting our military forces in the transportation of equipment and personnel to the far corners of the globe.
Maritime Day is a wonderfully moving and long-standing tradition that focuses on our countryas a maritime nation and recognizes the very significant contributions of the maritime industry and its workforce.
There are ceremonies all over the country, but if you are in the National Capital Region, I encourage you to attend the one which will take place at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Building on Wednesday morning, May 22, 2019. The building itself is quite lovely and the location, easily accessible. The DOT is located at 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE Washington D.C. You can find additional details of the ceremony on the Maritime Administration’s Website: https://www.maritime.dot.gov