Maritime Day Observance Also Recognizes Award of
Congressional Gold Medal to World War II Merchant Mariners
WASHINGTON – On this Maritime Day, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Maritime Administration (MARAD) are honoring the men and women who serve the industry “in peace and war,” while paying a special tribute to World War II merchant mariners. President Donald J. Trump recently signed the Merchant Mariners of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2020. The Act awards “a Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to the United States merchant mariners of World War II,” in recognition of their dedicated and vital service during that conflict.
“Congress and President Trump’s awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal to World War II merchant mariners is a fitting tribute to those who served with valor and distinction,” said Maritime Administrator Mark H. Buzby. “With the memory of the sacrifices of World War II merchant mariners always with us, we honor their patriotism and service on this and every Maritime Day.”
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Allied victory in World War II. During the war, U.S. merchant mariners sailed dangerous seas prowled by enemy vessels to maintain the vital supply lines fueling the worldwide effort to liberate the world from tyranny. Known as the Nation’s “fourth arm of defense,” more than 215,000 merchant mariners delivered nearly 270 billion long tons of cargo to our armed forces, on average 17 million pounds of cargo every hour, while suffering a higher per-capita casualty rate than any of the military branches. Nearly 2,000 U.S. merchant ships were sunk during the war; more than 9,500 members of this all-volunteer force paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Today, our Nation’s fleet of privately-owned, commercially-operated U.S.-flag vessels and the civilian U.S.-citizen merchant mariners who crew them remain a vital part of our Nation’s defense. Together, these mariners, vessels, ports, and other critical related infrastructure still share the mission of transporting equipment and supplies to deploy and sustain U.S. forces anytime and anywhere in support of national security. American mariners and American ships also support our Nation’s economic security by moving goods along maritime trade routes for American businesses and consumers. They are ambassadors of goodwill, projecting a peaceful presence along the sea lanes of the world.
Awarded by the U.S. Congress, the Congressional Gold Medal is presented to honor those whose dedication, heroism, and public service has created a lasting impact on American history. The United States Mint will design and strike the medal that will honor World War II merchant mariner veterans. This medal will then be awarded by the Speaker of the House of Representatives.