Maritime Heritage Day

In recognition of the vital role that our merchants and seamen play in Key West’s history, culture and economy, Mayor Craig Cates proclaimed May 22nd Maritime Day during this week’s City Commission meeting.

In times of war and peace, the American Merchant Marine has been dedicated to the orderly flow of goods and materials to and from the shores of our nation.

May 22nd marks the anniversary of the day the SS Savannah sailed from U.S. shores in 1819 to Liverpool on the first successful crossing of the Atlantic by a ship using steam propulsion.

“Each year on this day,” reads the proclamation, “men and women from all our United States currently serving in the American Merchant Marine are honored, along with those who served with such dedication and valor and those many seamen who lost their lives in our wars and conflict.”

Ron Demes, Executive Business Director for the Naval Air Station Key West, accepted the proclamation on behalf of the Propeller Club and the Maritime Historical Society.

“I can think of no other city in the United States of America to pay homage,” he said. “As we come into this Memorial Day, it’s important to remember the 250,000 merchant mariners who service in WWII, 6500 of whom lost their lives. Hundreds were prisoners of war. Over 800 ships were sunk or severely damaged.”

Demes noted that a commemorative sail and laying of a wreath will be held on May 22nd “to remember those who paid such a costly price.

Photo caption: Mayor Craig Cates and Ron Demes, Executive Business Director for the Naval Air Station Key West.