American Merchant Mariners' Memorial

U.S. Merchant Seaman Awarded Highest Civilian Medal

John Konrad
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December 2, 2016

American Merchant Mariners’ Memorial at Battery Park, New York City.

Fox News reports that the decades-long effort to recognize and honor the U.S. Merchant Marines of WWII took another step forward Wednesday when the House passed a bipartisan measure to award the seamen a Congressional Gold Medal.  The article states:

The medal, along with the Presidential Medal of Honor, is the highest civilian award in the country.

More than 200,000 Merchant Mariners played essential and perilous roles in winning the war — ferrying American troops and supplies into Atlantic and Pacific theater battle zones.

Some of the roughly 5,000 remaining mariners — now in their 80s and 90s — expressed gratitude this week over the House effort. And they voiced guarded optimism about a similar Senate measure and about perhaps getting compensation like the soldiers and sailors with whom they served.

“We’re always working for some recognition,” former Merchant Mariner Morris Harvey told FoxNew.com Wednesday night.

The 89-year-old Harvey, who turns 90 in late June, worries that the companion Senate effort doesn’t have enough support to pass this session.

So he’s pinned his hopes on next year and on someday receiving the financial compensation that outgoing California Rep. Janice Hahn, co-sponsor of the Congressional medal bill, and other House members have also tried to get for him and others of the Greatest Generation.

Hahn — whose southern Los Angeles district includes the harbors and ports from which thousands of Merchant Mariners have set sail — championed a bipartisan plan that essentially gives those who participated in the war effort a one-time, $25,000 payout.

“These men put their lives on the line in defense of their country during one of the darkest periods of human history,” Hahn said Wednesday. “For decades, their service went unrecognized. Read More…

 

Here at gCaptain we don’t often “editorialize” the news because we believe that debate is best served by facts and professional insight than reliance on “talking heads”… but, as the proud husband of a Merchant Marine veteran who served aboard a ready reserve ship in Iraq, I am going to take this opportunity to say just two things. First, thank you to Representative Janice Hahn for supporting this bill. Recognition for U.S. Merchant Mariners is overdue and well deserved. Second, to the rest of congress, we need to recognize all Merchant Marine war veterans, not just WWII veterans.

P.S. If you doubt the importance of recognizing WWII Mariners please read The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat before emailing us to say I’m off base.

John 

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