Air Force Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, commander, U.S. Transportation Command, and more than 150 guests paid tribute to some of the unsung heroes of national defense – merchant mariners – at Military Sealift Command’s annual National Maritime Day memorial service and wreath-laying ceremony at the .
National Maritime Day was established by Congress in 1933 to honor the contributions and sacrifices of merchant mariners in defense of the nation.
At the heart of the ceremony was the placing of three wreaths to commemorate the sacrifices that generations of mariners have made in service to the nation. The solemn occasion drew to a close with a 21-gun salute by a seven-person firing party positioned on the waterfront just outside the museum. Following the ceremony, the wreaths were transferred to the Merchant Marine bronze relief sculpture on the East Wall of the Navy Memorial in
“These are the people who ensure that the promises we've made to our service men and women are and always will be promises kept,” said Schwartz.
Special guests in attendance included World War II veterans who served as merchant mariners on the tankers and ammunition ships that supplied Allied troops in the and Pacific theaters. Cadets from the for Maritime Training and Education in , also attended the ceremony.
“This was the first Maritime Day that I’ve celebrated and it has been a wonderful experience,” said retired Navy Cmdr. Bill Carter one of the six WWII veterans honored at the ceremony.
MSC’s office in also observed Maritime Day May 16 during a ceremony in Busan, the world’s fifth largest port and MSCO Korea’s home for over a half a century. More than 80 dignitaries from the and military, port authorities, local government officials, U.S. Consulate, and representatives from the maritime industry attended the event.
MSC is the single largest employer of merchant mariners. More than 7,200 mariners work either as federal civil service mariners or commercial mariners employed by companies under contract to MSC.