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National Maritime Day celebrated in Duluth-Superior; salute to Merchant Mariners & the Maritime Industry

Monday, May 23, 2011

Duluth, Minn., U.S.A. - U.S. Merchant Marine veterans, current seafarers, and maritime industry stakeholders are gathering today, Monday, May 23, to celebrate National Maritime Day in the Port of Duluth-Superior. The program, sponsored locally by the Propeller Club of Duluth-Superior, gets underway at noon in the Horizon Room of the DECC Harbor Side Convention Center.

National Maritime Day commemorates the first steam vessel crossing of the Atlantic Ocean on May 22, 1819, when the SS Savannah sailed from her home port in Georgia bound for Liverpool, England. Established to recognize the value and importance of this nation's maritime industry, it evolved into a day to honor merchant mariners for their legacy of service and sacrifice - having safeguarded our country and its trade corridors during World War II and other armed conflicts around the world. Today, Maritime Day is observed as a combined salute to merchant mariners and the entire maritime industry...focusing attention on the benefits maritime brings to America's economy, trade, national security, employment, recreation, and quality of life.     

Keynote speaker for Maritime Day is Jim Weakley, president of Lake Carriers' Association, one of the nation's oldest trade associations which  represents 17 American companies that operate 55 U.S.-flag vessels on the Great Lakes. Those vessels have the capacity to transport more than 115 million tons of bulk cargo per year. Raw materials handled by these vessels drive the nation's economy - e.g. iron ore for the steel industry, coal for power generation, limestone for the construction and steel industries, plus so much more. Weakley's presentation is entitled "Sailors, Ships & Security" - a look at security from three perspectives - homeland, national and economic - and the integral role played by our domestic fleet.

Today's event will commence with the "Presentation of Colors" by local area Coast Guard units followed by the reading of proclamations from Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Duluth Mayor Don Ness and Superior Mayor Bruce Hagen, plus comments by Roy Fredin, vice president of the U.S. Merchant Marine Viking Chapter. Prior to the keynote address, a brief memorial service in honor of all mariners will be conducted by Rev. Tom Anderson, Twin Ports Ministry to Seafarers.            

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