Representatives of the U.S. Merchant Marine – including MTD-affiliated union members – will participate in the annual Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday, November 11 – Veterans Day.
Four World War II maritime veterans – Pete Kurkimilis, Charles Mills, Howard Pfeifer and David Yoho – will join an honor guard from the Seafarers Union’s Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education. The honor guard will present the United States and the U.S. Merchant Marine flags.
This marks the first time the U.S. Merchant Marine has been invited to participate at the solemn event, which historically has seen the President lay a wreath.
In addition, U.S. Maritime Administration (MarAd) Executive Director Jack Kammerer will place a wreath.
After four decades of fighting, mariners who sailed during World War II received veterans’ status in 1988. Three years later and in another first, union mariners marched in the parade from Capitol Hill to the White House with members of the U.S. Armed Services at the conclusion of the Kuwaiti War.
The American Merchant Marine Veterans worked with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, MarAd, Arlington National Cemetery, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, USA Maritime, the American Maritime Congress, the Transportation Institute and Gloria Cataneo Tosi to make this happen. Unions involved in the planning and implementation included the Seafarers; Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association; Masters, Mates & Pilots; and American Maritime Officers.