With the coronavirus pandemic, it’s never been more important to recognize some of our nation’s most important essential workers: our maritime workers.
Each year on May 22, the United States celebrates National Maritime in honor of the U.S. Merchant Marine and the critical role of the nation’s maritime industry.
National Maritime Day was first declared by Congress in 1933 to commemorate the American steamship Savannah’s voyage across the Atlantic, quietly sparking a new age of maritime travel and transport. With WWII, the holiday took on special significance when around 250,000 members of United States Merchant Marine participated in transporting necessary supplies and services to troops abroad, all while suffering an extraordinarily high casualty rate. According to the Maritime Administration, more than 6,700 American merchant mariners lost their lives in the War, with hundreds being detained as prisoners of war and more than 800 U.S. merchant ships being sunk or damaged.
This year’s theme of “Resilient Sealift for a Resilient Nation” reflects the U.S. maritime industry’s unwavering support of the nation, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
So as we go about our day today, let us not forget the merchant marine, port workers, captains, crews, engineers, pilots, shipbuilders, longshoremen and anyone else who helps keep cargo moving and our economy open not just during a pandemic, but every day.