MSC Observes National Maritime Day

Monday, May 24, 2004
Pictured is U.S. Representative Gene Taylor of Mississippi.

More than 200 guests attended Military Sealift Command's annual National Maritime Day ceremony at Willard Park on the Anacostia River at the historic Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., to honor some unsung heroes of our nation's defense -- America's merchant mariners.

Vice Adm. David L. Brewer III, USN, commander, MSC, hosted the ceremony that was attended by former Maryland congresswoman Helen Bentley as well as current and former members of the maritime service and military. Representative Gene Taylor of the Fourth District of Mississippi was the featured speaker.

Three wreaths decorated with flowers and ribbons were presented at the ceremony to commemorate the mariners lost at sea in peacetime and war. The wreaths will be placed in front of the Merchant Marine bronze relief sculpture on the East Wall of the Navy Memorial in downtown Washington, D.C., following the ceremony.

"Since 1949 Military Sealift Command has depended on America's merchant mariners to provide the best ocean transportation system in the world," said Vice Adm. Brewer said in his speech at the ceremony. "MSC is proud of our civilian mariners so it is fitting that today is set aside to acknowledge the great debt of gratitude we owe to the dedicated men and women of the U.S. Merchant Marine."

Merchant mariners have been a vital component of American sea power since the Revolutionary War when more than 11,000 mariners died in service. Today, mariners continue to play a critical role in our nation's defense -- enabling the U.S. military to operate around the world. U.S. merchant mariners have been on the front lines preserving U.S. freedom since the nation's infancy -- serving in every conflict from the Revolutionary War to the ongoing War on Terrorism.

Military Sealift Command, the single largest employer of U.S. merchant mariners, employs more than 4,100 civil service mariners and 3,900 commercial mariners serving aboard both government-owned ships and chartered ships worldwide.

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