Editor’s note: Check out the June issue of the LOG for coverage of the National Maritime Day ceremony that took place in the nation’s capital.
Saluting America’s maritime heritage while also underscoring the need to maintain a strong U.S. Merchant Marine, SIU members and officials took part in a number of National Maritime Day observances May 22 both aboard ship and ashore.
The gatherings included ceremonies in Norfolk, Virginia; Galveston and Port Arthur, Texas; Alameda and San Pedro, California; Guam; and aboard various vessels around the world.
The Navy’s U.S. Military Sealift Command (MSC) participated in a Norfolk ceremony hosted by the local chapter of the Propeller Club of the United States and the port, where the SIU was represented by Vice President Government Services Kermett Mangram and Government Services Division Representative Sam Spain. The Seafarers-crewed USNS Medgar Evers, docked nearby, served as a powerful visual reminder of the U.S. Merchant Marine’s reliability. The ship hosted public tours on May 21 to celebrate Naval Station Norfolk’s centennial.
A wreath-laying ceremony and tugboat water salute were also conducted May 22 on the Elizabeth River, with participation by more than 150 members from the maritime industry at the Decker Half Moone Center in downtown Norfolk.
As noted by MSC, “In 1933, Congress designated May 22 as National Maritime Day to recognize the influence of the merchant marine and the maritime industry to American economic prosperity and national defense. Merchant mariners later fought, and won, one of the greatest logistics battles in human history, moving and delivering supplies that enabled the Allied victory in World War II. As the war was reaching its final moments, General Dwight D. Eisenhower said, ‘When final victory is ours there is no organization that will share its credit more deservedly than the Merchant Marine.’”
“National Maritime Day has evolved to become so much more,” said Rear Adm. Dee L. Mewbourne, MSC commander, at the Norfolk ceremony. “We now recognize the importance of the maritime industry to our nation’s economic strength as well as the service, and sacrifice, of U.S. Merchant Mariners.”
He added, “While we pause to pay tribute to our merchant mariners today, we must recognize that world events continue to reinforce that we are living in a time of great uncertainty and consequence. As the maritime system becomes more heavily used, more stressed, and more contested than ever before, adaptation and innovation are needed to ensure mission accomplishment.”
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