The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) is expanding its traditional National Maritime Day ceremony in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, May 22, to honor living maritime heroes as well as merchant mariners who lost their lives in service to the nation.
Since 1971, MARAD has held an annual U.S. Merchant Marine Memorial Service
to honor American seafarers who have lost their lives in wartime service. During World War II alone, 733 American vessels were sunk, and nearly 6,000 merchant seamen and officers died as a result of enemy action and war-related causes. Their sacrifices often are overlooked during Memorial Day ceremonies.
"The tremendous response of the maritime community in New York on and after September 11 demonstrates how important marine transportation
is, and how willing our merchant mariners are to serve the nation," Maritime Administrator Capt. William G. Schubert said. "On National Maritime Day we should recognize those who are prepared to serve today as well as those whose past sacrifices have been so important to our nation and our way of life."
On September 11, up to a million people were evacuated by water. Commercial vessels responded immediately to the crisis and were essential in transporting, supplying and supporting rescue workers.
Surviving merchant marine veterans of World War II also will be honored, as will those who supported America's military services during the Korean, Vietnam and Persian Gulf conflicts.
In 1933, to promote public awareness of the nation's maritime heritage, Congress designated the anniversary of the first transatlantic voyage by a steamship, the SS SAVANNAH, on May 22, 1819, as National Maritime Day.
The Maritime Administration's ceremony honoring America's maritime heroes will be held at 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, May 22, in the theater of the U.S. Navy Memorial, 701 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C.