Each year on May 22nd, the United States celebrates National Maritime Day, a holiday in observance of the contributions of the men and women of the U.S. merchant marine, as well as the U.S. maritime industry and the benefits it brings to the country in terms of transportation, jobs, goods, recreation and national security.
The date May 22 is significant because it marks the day that the SS Savannah in 1819 departed on the first successful voyage by a steam-powered ship across the Atlantic, quietly sparking a new age of maritime travel and transport.
National Maritime Day was first declared by Congress in 1933, but the holiday took on a special significance in World War II when members of United States Merchant Marine transported necessary supplies and services to troops abroad, all while suffering an extraordinarily high casualty rate.
“In 1933, Congress declared National Maritime Day to commemorate the American steamship Savannah’s voyage from the United States to England, marking the first successful crossing of the Atlantic Ocean with steam propulsion.,” the U.S. Maritime Administration says on its website. “During World War II more than 250,000 members of the American Merchant Marine served their country, with more than 6,700 giving their lives, hundreds being detained as prisoners of war and more than 800 U.S. merchant ships being sunk or damaged.”
As part of the tradition, each year the President of the United States offers a proclamation in recognition of the holiday and the importance of the United States Merchant Marine. President Donald Trump’s National Maritime Day proclamation is provided in full below:
NATIONAL MARITIME DAY, 2017
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
On National Maritime Day, we recognize the important role the United States Merchant Marine plays in supporting our commerce and national security. We honor the proud history of our merchant mariners and their important contributions in strengthening our economy.
Americans have long looked to the sea as a source of safety and well-being. Bounded by two oceans and the Gulf of Mexico, and crisscrossed by inland waterways, America was destined to be a maritime nation. Our fledgling Republic expanded and became stronger, as our Nation’s growing Merchant Marine connected the States and cemented ties among our new allies.
Today, the men and women who crew ships remain essential to our Nation’s prosperity and security. Those in the maritime industry, including merchant mariners, promote our economic growth, facilitating the export of more than $475 billion in goods just last year and sustaining our critical defense industrial base. Merchant mariners also actively protect our homeland, serving as our eyes and ears on the seas. They serve with distinction and courage, heading into war zones, and too often sacrificing their own lives for our protection.
The Congress, by a joint resolution approved May 20, 1933, has designated May 22 of each year as “National Maritime Day,” to commemorate the first transoceanic voyage by a steamship, in 1819 by the S.S. Savannah. By this resolution, the Congress has authorized and requested the President to issue annually a proclamation calling for its appropriate observance.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 22, 2017, as National Maritime Day. I call upon the people of the United States to mark this observance and to display 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 nineteenth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.
DONALD J. TRUMP
— USN Military Sealift (@MSCSealift) May 22, 2017