This holiday was declared by U.S. Congress in 1933 and honors the maritime industry and particularly the American merchant marines, who are civilians who are often called upon to act in a military context, with less recognition and fewer benefits.
Since my father-in-law was in the American merchant marine during World War II, I was interested to read that it was responsible for the largest sealift in the world during that war. (A sealift is the large-scale transportation of troops, supplies, and equipment by sea.)
Did you know...?
- It took 7 to 15 tons of supplies to support one soldier for one year.
- Some argue that, since the Allies would have lost WWII if there had not existed the means to carry men and supplies to where they were needed, the U.S. wartime merchant marine was “one of the most significant contributions made by any nation to the eventual winning of the Second World War.”
- The prewar number of experienced mariners in the U.S. was 55,000—and that number was increased to over 215,000 through U.S. Maritime Service training programs. Wow!
- The Merchant Marines suffered the largest percentage of war-related deaths than all other U.S. services. One in 26 mariners were killed in the line of duty over the course of the war, with an average of 33 Allied ships sunk each week during 1942!!! Horrifying!