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USMMA Celebrates National Maritime Day

KINGS POINT, N.Y., May 29, 2014 - The United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) at Kings Point celebrated National Maritime Day on May 22nd with a ceremony in the Mariners’ Memorial Chapel, while the American Merchant Marine Museum marked the occasion with the opening of a new exhibit, “Remembering the 142.”

A small crowd of public visitors joined Academy officials in the Chapel to listen to a Regimental Band performance and hear remarks by Rear Admiral Susan Dunlap.  “Our maritime tradition is an inescapable part of the history of America,” said Dunlap, “and a vast number of seafarers and citizens of shore side communities have shaped this country culturally, economically and diplomatically throughout its history.”  Following her comments, Rear Admiral Dunlap read the President’s National Maritime Day proclamation.

The crowd then walked over to the American Merchant Marine Museum where Dr. Joshua Smith, Ph.D., Interim Director of the Merchant Marine Museum, said, “This is a celebration of the maritime industry and merchant seafarers. Here at the American Merchant Marine Museum, every day is National Maritime Day.  Our motto is “Ships Made America.”  He then officiated at a ribbon cutting for the museum’s new exhibit, “Remembering the 142.”  The exhibit features profiles and photographs of the 142 USMMA midshipmen who were embarked onboard transport and resupply vessels during WWII and who lost their lives during that conflict.

The museum also introduced a new publication by the American Maritime History Project called Braving the Wartime Seas; Kings Pointers in World War II.  The book tells the story of Academy graduates who served during the war and relates their experiences in ships on the high seas in contact with enemy vessels.  Mr. George Ryan, Class of 1957, Chairman of the American Maritime History Project, talked about the book and described the efforts taken by project members to interview Kings Point Alumni who are WWII veterans and record their stories. He paid special tribute to Mr. Thomas F. McCaffery, Class of 1976, who was the Primary Researcher on the book.  Mr. McCaffery was recently honored by the Academy as the 2014 Battle Standard Dinner Speaker. Mr. McCaffery’s touching Battle Standard Dinner speech gave guests an intimate look at the USMMA cadet-midshipmen who as students gave their lives during WWII. Their stories are included in the book. “U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Cadet-Midshipmen and graduates continue to serve their country  today just as they served in World War II, and their service is recognized and honored”, said Ryan.

Maritime Day visitors were able to take self-guided tours of the campus.  Wiley Hall, the Mariners’ Memorial Chapel, and the Merchant Marine Museum were all open for public visiting.

By a joint resolution of Congress approved May 20, 1933, May 22nd of each year is designated as National Maritime Day.  Congress authorized and requested that the President of the United States issue a proclamation recognizing National Maritime Day and calling for its appropriate observance in ceremonies and events held throughout the country.  During National Maritime Day, the country celebrates its proud maritime history and salutes the mariners who have transported American goods across the oceans in times of peace and war.

Updated: Thursday, May 29, 2014