On National Maritime Day, we honor merchant mariners for their dedication to promoting commerce and protecting our freedom. It is a day to recognizes them for all the great contributions and sacrifices they've made, and still make today for our country.
It is observed on May 22, the date that the American steamship Savannah set sail from Savannah, Georgia on the first ever transoceanic voyage under steam power. The holiday was created by the United States Congress in 1933.
The United States has always been and always will be a great maritime nation. The Merchant Marine has been a pillar in this country's foundation of prosperity and security from the origins as 13 British colonies, through every period of peace and conflict since. They power the world's largest economy and strengthen our ties with trading partners around the world as they transport cargo and passengers during peace time.
Although they are not a military service, nor are the seamen military personnel and do not have a role in combat, they are an aid in the national defense. In time of war, the Merchant Marine is capable of working with the Navy, and can be called upon to deliver troops and supplies for the military.