On May 22, we celebrated National Maritime Day. Every year is filled with days and celebrations ascribed to any number of questionable “holidays” often meant to commemorate or spread awareness. For instance, I could find at least 8 other celebrations on May 22, including National Vanilla Pudding Day and Accounting Day. In light of so many seemingly inconsequential days, what is so special about National Maritime Day?
As someone who has joined this industry as a relative outsider, I can vouch for having previously not grasped maritime’s continued influence on the world. Sure, ships have been at the center of worldwide colonization, commerce, and exploration for millennia, but with other, sexier means of modern transport pervading our consciousness, we forget how essential it still is to transport goods and services nautically.
The specific date itself commemorates the first trans-ocean voyage of the steamship Savannah, which set sail for England on this date in 1819. Prior to that voyage, and of course up until present day, maritime has served our country through wartime and peacetime, economically and militarily, recreationally and defensively. From the Navy and Coast Guard, to the fishing, shipping, and oil industries, mariners have provided a complex system of defense, along with forming the backbone of most international commerce. And maritime has no indication of ever going away. What other major industry can truly match the historical significance, the cultural and economic impact, and the staying power of maritime?
So, whenever you meet a mariner, be reminded that they form a small but essential working component in a vast and complex network of seafaring operations that make not only this country, but this world, go round!