National Maritime Day

May 22 is National Maritime Day in the United States

From pilgrims to privateers to Merchant Marines, the results of mariners' efforts and bravery are woven through the fabric of American history.

On National Maritime Day, we celebrate the people who have or continue to take to the seas to help all Americans to establish our presence and industry around the world, and maintain our safety at home.

What is National Maritime Day?

National Maritime Day in the United States is intended to pay tribute to all who have served and sacrificed on our waterways and around the world. National Maritime Day was established by Congress in 1933.

The chosen date, May 22, was the date in 1819 when the Savannah set sail on what is considered by most to be the first transoceanic voyage by a ship under steam power.

The importance of steam power at the time could not be overstated. For mariners, steam power drastically reduced many of the dangers and delays of ocean travel.

For the rest of us, the advancement of steam powered ships proved to be influential as the United States became industrialized. For these reasons, May 22 is as meaningful to mariners as it is to everyone else.

National Maritime Day is May 22

How is National Maritime Day Observed?

While there are no widely known traditions for observing National Maritime Day, there are some ideas that stand out.

Firstly, fly the American flag at homes and businesses. While it is not directed in the the congressional joint resolution that established National Maritime Day, Presidents have made a convention of including a call to fly American flags and to dress ships in their annual National Maritime Day proclamations.

Secondly, tossing a wreath into water as a show honor. The idea caught on when Rear Admiral David L. Brewer III, Commander, Military Sealift Command, and Gordon R. England, Secretary of the Navy, tossed a wreath into the Anacostia River at the Washington Navy Yard in honor of fallen mariners during a 2002 National Maritime Day memorial service in Washington D.C.

Finally, attendance at a National Maritime Day event or a visit to a maritime museum are both encouraged by most mariners and maritime organizations. Any of these activities would strengthen one's knowledge of the Merchant Marine program and the heritage of seafaring Americans.

Merchant Marines Poster from 1947

What Do Mariners Mean to Us?

Mariners are important to the United States in so many ways — each of us can trace some way in which a mariner's efforts directly impacted our lives.

Mariners have delivered a legacy of innovation. From rows to wind to that fateful day in 1819 when steam power turned the first paddle wheel. Now, there are ships operating under nuclear power. From knot-work to lift and maneuvering machine technologies, so much is owed to the work that mariners have done.

Mariners provide much of the action associated with our global economy. The ships and tugs in our waterways are often pivotal checkpoints in the delivery of essential goods. Transport ships take our exports to markets overseas.

Mariners are the first to rush to the rescue in a time of need. They unflinchingly answer the call to deliver humanitarian aid to destinations in all levels of danger; be it war, search and rescue, or some other disaster.

Mariners have historically provided essential support to our military efforts. From the privateers who turned the tide of the American Revolution, to WWII and the largest sealift the world had ever known, to the critical delivery of military aid in our Middle East conflicts, mariners have steadfastly placed themselves in personal danger to advance the causes of our country.

American Merchant Marine Memorial Photo Credit 
Harvey Barrison shared under the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) license of the Creative Commons
Click image to enlarge.

Give Thanks on National Maritime Day

Do you know a mariner? You can give them a gift of an outdoor American flag, Merchant Marines flag, United States Navy Flag, or Marine Corps flag. LIBERTY FLAGS will drop ship your gift to any location in the United States.

Attend National Maritime Day events or visit a maritime museum in their honor.

Most importantly, thank them for their continued work to keep all Americans safe, free, and prosperous.

Will You Be Celebrating?

Leave a comment below and send us your pictures of National Maritime Day celebrations and flags, American flags, flagpoles, ropes, or other accessories! We would be honored to feature your photography in our blog or on our social accounts. Remember, photos of damaged flags and accessories are valuable, too.

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Have a great day, from your friends at LIBERTY FLAGS, The American Wave®.


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