Nation Pays Tribute to Ports, Maritime Industry as Part of National Maritime Day Observance
(May 19, 2005) – Sunday, May 22, is officially National
Maritime Day. It is the
day the nation—and particularly those in the U.S. maritime
industry who are responsible for handling America’s imports,
exports, domestic shipments and its millions of annual cruise
passengers—honor those who currently serve and have served as
merchant mariners in service to their country.
On a larger scale however, National Maritime Day is a day to
pay special tribute to the benefits that the maritime industry
provides this country and to all who live here.
According to the U.S. Maritime Administration,
which is honoring America’s maritime heroes today in a ceremony at
Washington, D.C.’s U.S. Navy Memorial, the U.S. marine
transportation system annually:
Moves more than 2 billion tons of domestic
and international freight
Imports 3.3 billion barrels of oil to meet
U.S. energy demands
Transports 134 million passengers by ferry
Serves 78 million Americans engaged in
Hosts approximately 10 million cruise ship
Nearly every American depends on the maritime
industry for the products they use everyday, whether the goods are
imported or produced domestically. Many others depend on the
maritime industry for their livelihoods. According to
Pennsylvania-based consultant Martin Associates, the annual economic
impacts of U.S. waterborne cargo movements provide:
1.1 million direct, induced and indirect
3.8 million waterborne export-generated
$44 billion in personal income
$56 billion in transportation service
$729 billion to the nation's Gross Domestic
$16.1 billion in federal, state and local
Because National Maritime Day falls on a Sunday
this year, celebrations honoring the occasion are taking place both
this week and next. For example, the Propeller Club of the United
States and the Jacksonville (Fla.) Port Authority, or JAXPORT, are
commemorating National Maritime Day today with an event at the
JAXPORT Cruise Terminal that includes a high school musical
ensemble, scholarship awards, a $1,000 cruise voucher prize drawing,
and a speech by Jacksonville City Council President Elaine Brown.
Brown will also present a wreath to the crew of a commercial
pilot boat, who will take wreath to the Atlantic Ocean and cast it
into the sea in memory of fallen mariners.
On Sunday, the 9th Annual Port of Wilmington
(N.C.) Maritime Day Festival will feature port and vessel tours,
musical entertainment, children’s activities, a wreath laying
ceremony and speeches by local maritime dignitaries, including Brig.
Gen. David L. Jennette, Jr., of the North Carolina National Guard,
and Tom Eagar, the North Carolina State Ports Authority’s chief
Also on Sunday, the Port of Los Angeles will
participate in the annual National Maritime Day Ceremony and
Luncheon, hosted by the American Merchant Marine Veterans Memorial
Committee. About 500
people are expected for the 10 a.m. solemn ceremony, featuring
elected officials, veterans and local religious and civic leaders,
at the San Pedro AMMV Monument in San Pedro.
The ceremony will be followed by casting of wreaths on the
water and a luncheon.
On May 25, the Port of Duluth-Superior (Minn.)
will observe National Maritime Day on board the harbor excursion
vessel Vista Star with a dockside memorial service, proclamations by
Duluth Mayor Herb Bergson and Superior Mayor Dave Ross, and a
keynote address by Minnesota State Rep. Tom Huntley, who is also
chairman of the Great Lakes Commission, a bi-national agency
representing the eight U.S. states and two Canadian provinces that
border the Great Lakes.
President Franklin Roosevelt inaugurated
National Maritime Day on May 22, 1933, in commemoration of the first
voyage of a steam ship across the Atlantic Ocean.
On May 22, 1819, the S.S. Savannah departed for Europe under
steam. Although the ship was also rigged with sails, it paved the
way for future steamship success.
Today, National Maritime Day honors merchant mariners and
shipping in general.