Today is National Maritime Day here in the states, an observance that “Honors the contributions of the American merchant marine, civilians who have defended the freedom of the United States since 1775, and who executed the largest sealift the world has ever known during World War II. The observance of National Maritime Day also honors the maritime industry and the benefits it brings Americans in terms of transportation, jobs, goods, and recreational opportunities.”
National Maritime Day was first declared so by Congress in 1933. The date was chosen as the anniversary of the day which the American steamship SS Savannah set sail on the world’s first transoceanic voyage under steam power.
The highlight of Maritime Day is the annual Proclamation set forth by the US President. Here are the words of President Barack Obama:
NATIONAL MARITIME DAY, 2009
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Americans have long looked to the sea as a source of security and prosperity. Bounded by two oceans and the Gulf of Mexico, and criss-crossed by a myriad of inland waterways, America’s destiny as a maritime nation was a story foretold.
The Merchant Marine took up arms alongside the Continental Navy to help defeat the British Navy during the American Revolution. Since then, they have served bravely as the United States has faced threats ranging from war to piracy, and our seafaring fleet has proven instrumental in protecting our safety. In times of conflict and crisis, the Armed Forces rely on the Merchant Marine’s sealift capability to transport critical equipment and supplies. Time and again, mariners have demonstrated their willingness and ability to meet daunting challenges.
Waterways have also enabled much of the commerce that has expanded America’s economy. Domestic and international commerce occurred along rivers and coasts even before our Nation’s birth. Great cities have sprouted near waterways, and maritime activity remains crucial to our economy today.
The men and women of the U.S. Merchant Marine and the many other workers who have supported the maritime industry have made significant contributions to our leadership in the global marketplace, and to our security.
On this National Maritime Day, we also mark the opening of a permanent exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution, “On the Water.” It demonstrates the importance of the maritime industry and chronicles our history as a maritime nation.
The Congress, by a joint resolution approved May 20, 1933, has designated May 22 of each year as “National Maritime Day” and has authorized and requested the President to issue annually a proclamation calling for its appropriate observance.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 22, 2009, as National Maritime Day. I call upon the people of the United States to mark this observance by honoring the service of merchant mariners and by displaying the flag of the United States at their homes and in their communities. I also request that all ships sailing under the American flag dress ship on that day.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
twentieth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.
For those visiting Washington DC visit the US Maritime Administration’s website for a full calendar of today’s events.
Social Media Hook
In honor of Maritime Day @gCaptain asks: What is your definition of the nautical term “Old Salt”?