A little known American commemorative date is approaching on May 22. Working behind the scenes, a group of Washington, D.C., maritime industry officials hope to make this an event one the whole nation embraces.
In 1933, Congress decreed May 22 as National Maritime Day. Each year since it has been a day for the United States to observe its proud maritime heritage, honor the men and women who serve and have served as merchant mariners, and recognize the many benefits that result from our American maritime industry. National Maritime Day also follows on the heels of National Transportation Week, which the U.S. Department of Transportation has announced will run the week of May 14-20.
As a way to underscore the critical importance of the maritime industry to the national transportation network, this year the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD), supported by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the American Association of Port Authorities, The Propeller Club of the United States, Waterways Council
, Inc., and other maritime groups, will introduce an awareness campaign designed to focus national attention on the maritime industry. Called, "Maritime Matters," the campaign will help to communicate the value of the maritime industry in relation to the economy, national security, jobs, environmental protection, agriculture, quality of life, recreation and more.
For example, according to MARAD, our nation's ports and coastal and inland waterways support the annual movement of more than 2.5 billion tons of domestic and international commerce. They also generate significant local and regional economic development, support nearly 5 million jobs and provide facilities for some 8 million cruise and 113 million ferry passengers annually.
On May 22, commemorative activities will take place across the country-at seaports and along inland waterways-in combination with National Maritime Day observances in Washington, D.C. To visit the Web site MARAD has developed to help U.S. ports and cities disseminate information on their respective National Maritime Day events, go to http://www.marad.dot.gov/ and click on the "National Maritime Day" toolbar. This site provides up-to-date information on National Maritime Day commemorative activities across the country, along with a history of why the observance day came into being and how the maritime industry has evolved to touch each and every American life.