Model Of National Monument Honoring American Seamen Unveiled On Maritime Day

America's merchant marine industry, after 200 years, will build a national monument on the New York waterfront to the thousands of merchant seamen who died at sea in the service of their country in war and peace.

Announcement of the Merchant Mariner's Memorial was made, appropriately, on National Maritime Day by Congressman John M. Murphy, Chairman of the House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee. The Congressman was a special guest of honor at the New York observance.

Port Authority chairman William J. Ronan and Congressman Murphy unveiled a model of the Memorial at public ceremonies on the plaza of the World Trade Center, also marking the start of World Trade Week.

Dr. Ronan, who spoke in his role as chairman of the World Trade Week Committee for the New York-New Jersey Port area, told several hundred invited guests and several thousand Trade Center employees and members of the general public that foreign trade was the keystone of the area's economy. "Nearly half a million people earn their livelihood from the Port," he said, "and foreign commerce valued at $48.5 billion moved through the New York- New Jersey area last year." It was a day long to be remembered in the annals of the World Trade Center, which will mark its seventh anniversary of operation in December. It was the first time that the five-acre plaza—the largest such public space in New York City—was opened to the public.

Maritime Day ceremonies on the plaza were the occasion for a stirring review by cadets from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y., which included the Regimental Band and Color Guards under the direction of Comdr. Kenneth R. Force. The review featured marching and exercises by the Precision Rifle Squad, including 100 parading color bearers carrying 50 state flags and an equal number of American flags.

Not to be outdone, Director William Reynolds and the Color Guard and Glee Club of the State University of New York Maritime College at Fort Schuyler presented their own review. They presented three sea chanteys, to bring a proper nautical touch to the observance of National Maritime Day in the nation's leading port.

It was a solemn day too.

Invited guests from the maritime industry earlier in the morning had begun Maritime Day with an ecumenical service at the Seamen's Church Institute on nearby State Street. There, they observed a moment of silence for those merchant seamen who lost their lives at sea in the last year.

At the plaza, representatives of labor, management and government from the maritime industry laid the t r a d i t i o n a l memorial wreath, normally cast into the waters of the harbor, instead at the base of the model of the New York waterfront monument, to merchant seamen lost at sea.

Then the model was unveiled by Congressman Murphy, assisted by Dr. Ronan. Also participating were James P. McAllister, honorary chairman of World Trade Week for the maritime industry, and Capt. Robert E. Hart, USN (ret.), general chairman of the Maritime Day program. Representations of four white ships' bows, pointing to each direction of the compass, surrounded a gleaming golden flag pole in the center of the model.

In actuality, each ship's bow will be of white steel, 25 feet high. The bows will come from a shipyard in each of the nation's four coastal regions, it is hoped by the nonprofit group from the maritime industry sponsoring the Memorial.

Captain Hart, president of the Marine Index Bureau, Inc., who directed the committee which put the program together, presided over the hour-long ceremony.

The plaza will remain open as a landscaped haven for thousands of office workers in the Trade Center and surrounding areas. The park-like area will also attract many thousands of visitors.

Many will go in clear weather to the rooftop observation deck of the South Tower Building, Two World Trade Center. There, 1,377 feet above the plaza—more than a quarter of a mile high— they will look out into the bistate harbor. They will see the stately procession of ships manned by our own merchant marine and the merchant seamen of America's trading partners, steaming in and out of port.

Other stories from June 15, 1977 issue


Maritime Reporter

First published in 1881 Maritime Reporter is the world's largest audited circulation publication serving the global maritime industry.