Click HERE to view photos from the ceremonies
Click HERE to access the National Maritime Day proclamation from the White House
SIU members and officials along with apprentices from the Seafarers-affiliated Paul Hall Center took part in both of the National Maritime Day ceremonies today in Washington, D.C.
The morning began with the traditional gathering at U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) headquarters, where several dignitaries addressed hundreds in attendance. Representing the SIU were President Michael Sacco, Executive Vice President Augie Tellez, Secretary-Treasurer David Heindel, Vice President Contracts George Tricker, Vice President Great Lakes Tom Orzechowski, Port Agent Pat Vandegrift, Legislative Director Brian Schoeneman and Plans Administrator Maggie Bowen.
In the early afternoon, the union hosted a brief ceremony aboard the SIU-crewed training vessel Freedom Star, docked a mile or so from the DOT building. Following remarks by President Sacco and Paul Hall Center Trustee Tony Naccarato, a memorial wreath was tossed from the boat.
Speakers at the DOT ceremony included Gen. Darren McDew, commanding officer of the U.S. Transportation Command; Maritime Administrator Chip Jaenichen; Rear Adm. T.K. Shannon, commanding officer of the U.S. Military Sealift Command; Ed Wytkind, president of the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department; and Mark Barker, president of Interlake Steamship Company.
Vice Adm. Albert Herberger, USN (Ret.) received a special award for his lifetime of dedication to the U.S. maritime industry, while Paul Hall Center Apprentices Simona Evans, Frank Bigornia and Thedford Jones combined to handle wreath-tending and memorial bell-ringing duties.
Most of the speakers cited the U.S. Merchant Marine’s centuries of service to national and economic security. They honored the memories of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, including thousands who perished in World War II, and insisted immediate efforts are needed to bolster American-flag sealift capability along with U.S. crews.
Gen. McDew said civilian mariners “have always answered the call,” adding that the availability of U.S. crews “is a crucial capability that must never be taken for granted.”
Shannon recognized the Paul Hall Center apprentices and said current international tensions underscore the ongoing need for strong sealift capacity. He expressed support for the Jones Act and the Maritime Security Program and added, “Relying on foreign-flag ships (for U.S. sealift) is simply not an option.”
Jaenichen said the merchant marine’s efforts “have been absolutely essential to national defense. You’ve consistently gone above and beyond the call of duty…. We are committed to taking every action to grow and sustain our merchant marine.”