Washington, D.C./ Politics & Govt
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Published on May 22, 2024
President Biden Honors US Merchant Mariners on National Maritime Day, Proposes $191M for AcademySource: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Todd Macdonald, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

President Joseph R. Biden Jr. marked May 22, as National Maritime Day, extending America's honor to its merchant mariners for their unwavering service and sacrifice. Observing the historical significance of this day, which commemorates the first transoceanic steamship voyage in 1819 by the S.S. Savannah, Biden paid tribute to the mariners' dedication and critical role in supporting the nation's welfare and prosperity. The White House release specifically calls them "engines of our economy," highlighting their part in international trade and supply chain support by moving billions of dollars of goods to American businesses and consumers.

According to the presidential proclamation, merchant mariners have not only played a significant role in wartime efforts and disaster responses but continue to drive humanitarian aid and military equipment worldwide, while supporting the lifeblood of commerce. With personal recognition of their efforts, Biden asserted his administration's support, including enforcing the Jones Act – a law ensuring that vessels traveling between U.S. ports are American-built, owned, and crewed. This, he added, will buttress American shipbuilding and uphold good union jobs, and, in delivering the goods, a stronger nation they have made. The proclamation also explored the administration's commitment to infrastructure, including enhancing port conditions to make them safer and more efficient.

In an effort to bolster the Merchant Marine's future, Biden's budget proposes a $191 million investment in the United States Merchant Marine Academy, with the goal of nurturing the next generation of maritime leaders. Furthermore, not shying away from addressing internal issues within the force, Biden mentioned the establishment of Every Mariner Builds A Respectful Culture Standards, targeting the prevention of sexual assault and harassment and ensuring support for survivors, according to the White House.

Remembering the fallen heroes of the merchant marine, Biden emphasized the nation's debt of gratitude and the indelible legacy of mariners who have laid down their lives for America. Recognizing their ultimate sacrifice, he urged a collective effort to observe National Maritime Day with ceremonies and activities tailored to honor the United States Merchant Marine and maritime industry. As part of the tradition, he requested all ships under the American flag dress ship to commemorate the dedication and sacrifices made by merchant mariners, done for our Nation.