Tuesday, May 21, 2013

National Maritime Day - May 22nd

How many of you knew that today is National Maritime Day in the USA?  That many of you?  Wow!

I wouldn't have known except last Friday in Galveston they observed the day with a ceremony next to the Tall Ship Elissa as part of the Seafarers Center's Gala event being held that evening, which I attended.

Unknown to me, I was shepherded to this event on the pier.  Had I been on my own, I would not have probably ended up there.  I'm so darn glad my friends Sue and Vandy made sure I was there.

It was very ceremonial, which I'm not.  At least not very often.  However, it seemed appropriate once I heard the statistics about merchant marines and the role they have played in defending the USA and the role they play in industry and activities at the Port of Galveston. And all ports.

Members of the Coast Guard presented the Colors.  They had the Pledge of Allegiance along with recognition of dignitaries and veterans.  In addition there was recognition of maritime industry workers.

In Galveston  there is the Texas Maritime Academy at Texas A&M University at Galveston.  The Director spoke of the current and future plans of the school, the amount of students and the renewed interest in this field of study.

The absolute most interesting part of the entire afternoon was the introduction of Merchant Marines who served in World War II.  Among them was a woman, whose name I can't remember, who joined the Merchant Marines because originally she wanted to get to Australia.  She never got there..She told the most amazing stories about being a radio operator and at one point being on a boat in the bay near Iwo Jima. along with 100's of other ships.  She told me also that originally the radio operators were below deck.  It worked better to have them on the main deck so they could see better so they built a wooden shack for them up there.  Hence the name Radio Shack - I'm NOT making this up!

This woman is 92 years old and remembered specific and intricate details of much of her eight years as a Merchant Marine.  She is a tiny woman but she was a spitfire, to put it mildly.  When I found out that night from her that she is 92, I could hardly believe it.  What tales she had to tell!

Shortly thereafter during the ceremony, a firefighting tug pulled up and presented a water cannon salute.  Quite impressive.  Of course I have photos of ALL of this, but can't share with you til I return to San Miguel.

So today, when you have nothing to do or think about, remember that they say if it hadn't been for the Merchant Marines, it is questionable if we would have won World War II.  The number of casualties was astounding and their presence was  huge.

For more information,  do your own sleuthing.  It's fun to learn something new about a subject
 that you've never thought about before..........

Happy National Maritime Day!


Shannon said...

That's very interesting, I had no idea about the involvement of the merchant marines in WW2.

Babs said...

Nor I Shannon. I believe that branch of the service had the highest fatality rate!

It was very poignant when all the WWII vets stood at the ceremony for the laying of the wreath and the Pledge of Allegiance........

calypso said...

Did not know this celebration. It hard to keep up with them all.

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