The Nation’s Capital paid its respect on May 22 to the men and women of the U.S. Merchant Marine who have served, are serving or about to serve their country in times of war and peace.
Through a presidential proclamation and a respectful ceremony at the Department of Transportation, Washington celebrated National Maritime Day. Congress set that date for recognition through a joint resolution in 1933 that was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as it was when the first successful transoceanic steam propulsion voyage was started in 1819.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx called the U.S. Merchant Marine “a symbol of hope.” His remarks recalled the efforts of American mariners serving as the fourth arm of defense in military engagements around the world. He noted that it was American mariners on their own navigating ferry boats, sightseeing vessels, tugs and many more types of craft who conducted the largest evacuation in history after New York’s World Trade Center was hit by terrorists on September 11, 2001. He added it has been American mariners who answer the call to help others in need or hunger around the world.
The head of the U.S. Transportation Command, General Paul Selva (USAF), stated the nation owes it merchant mariners “a deep, deep debt of gratitude” for all they have accomplished since America’s founding. He saluted the “bridges of sealift” merchant vessels have provided to U.S. armed forces around the world.
Rear Admiral T.K. Shannon (USN), the commander of the U.S. Military Sealift Command, said the only weapons merchant mariners have had over the years to accomplish their missions have been “hard work, integrity and patriotism.”
While acting U.S. Maritime Administrator Paul “Chip” Jaenichen presented President Obama’s official proclamation (see below) during the Transportation Department ceremony, he served as the keynote speaker at joint Washington Propeller Club/Kings Point Alumni luncheon immediately after.
He called for a national maritime policy as a crowning salute to those who have sailed before while recalling the meetings already held this year by the Maritime Administration to create such a document. He applauded the work performed so far by labor, business and government representatives, but added more needs to be done.
Jaenichen called upon those attending both the luncheon and ceremony to promote the U.S.-flag maritime industry, to make others aware of what it does for the nation’s economy and defense.
Presidential Proclamation — National Maritime Day, 2014
NATIONAL MARITIME DAY, 2014
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
America’s open seas have long been a source of prosperity and strength, and since before our Nation’s founding, the men and women of the United States Merchant Marine have defended them. From securing Atlantic routes during the naval battles of the Revolutionary War to supplying our Armed Forces around the world in the 21st century and delivering American goods to overseas markets in times of peace, they have always played a vital role in our Nation’s success. During National Maritime Day, we celebrate this proud history and salute the mariners who have safeguarded our way of life.
Today’s Merchant Marine upholds its generations-long role as our “fourth arm of defense.” Yet they also go beyond this mission, transporting food where there is hunger and carrying much-needed supplies to those in distress. Thanks to our dedicated mariners, people around the world continue to see the American flag as a symbol of hope.
To create middle-class jobs and maintain our leading position in an ever-changing world, we must provide new marketplaces for our businesses to compete. As we expand commerce, we do so with confidence that the United States Merchant Marine will keep our supply lines secure. Because just as America’s workers and innovators can rise to any challenge, our mariners have demonstrated time and again that they can meet any test. Today, let us reaffirm our support for their essential mission.
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, 2014, 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 fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.