A musical salute to "Merchant Marine Heroes From the Past," and brief, dignified tributes to the merchant marine industry of the present were the highlights of the Port of New York-New Jersey National Maritime Day ceremonies held Monday, May 22, on the plaza of the World Trade Center, New York, N.Y.
Some 200 midshipmen from the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y., participated in a t h r i l l i n g 20- minute musical pageant honoring merchant seamen through the ages. It featured the Merchant Marine Academy's Regimental Band, Color Guard and Star Spangled Banner Brigade, under the direction of Comdr. Kenneth R.
Force, USMS, Director of Music of the Academy, who staged and directed the colorful review.
Three-hundred invited sponsors and guests and more than 2,000 of the general public were in attendance at the plaza during the noon-day lunch hour.
Merchant marine heroes in the exciting pageant included symbolic Egyptian, Roman and Viking seamen, as well as Christopher Columbus, Henry Hudson, John Paul Jones, Robert Fulton, the fictional Captain Ahab, and World War II merchant seamen from Britain and the United States.
The flag brigade included 100 cadets — 50 carrying American flags, and an equal number bearing the 50 state flags. The 75- piece Kings Point Regimental Band played stirring martial music appropriate to the merchant marine heroes who were being honored.
Capt. Robert E. Hart, USN (ret.), president of the Marine Index Bureau and general chairman, Maritime Day-1978 in the New York-New Jersey Port, was master of ceremonies for the event held on the World Trade Center Plaza.
Peter C. Goldmark Jr., executive director of The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, welcomed the invited guests, as well as the lunch-hour crowd of 2,000 of Trade Center and downtown area employees who gathered on the spacious plaza. Mr.
Goldmark called attention to the importance of international trade and transportation to the states of New York and New Jersey, as well as the nation as a whole, and noted that Maritime Day marked the opening of the 1978 World Trade Week.
Howard G. Sloane, president of Hernasco Corporation and chairman of the 1978 World Trade Week Committee, and James P.
McAllister of J.P. McAllister Associates, honorary chairman, World Trade Week for the Maritime Industry, also gave brief welcome messages.
Christian A. Bendixen, Commander of the Robert L. Hague Merchant Marine Post, was called upon to report on the American Legion Robert L. Hague Merchant Marine Achievement Award. The purpose of this award is to encourage a continuing betterment of the American merchant marine in every segment of the merchant marine industry. The American Bureau of Shipping was announced as the award winner for the year 1977. The actual presentation of the trophy to Robert T. Young, chairman of the board, ABS, will be made later through the office of the President of the United States. Former recipients were special dais guests, and these included Adm. John M. Will, USN (ret.), president, Arthur Tickle Engineering Works, Inc.— 1958; Howard Pack, vice chairman, Seatrain Lines, Inc.—1965; Ran Hettena, president, Maritime Overseas Corporation—1973; Sheldon H. Kinney, president, State University of New York Maritime College —1974, and Frank 0. Braynard, Father of OP SAIL—1976.
A highlight of the musical program was a special rendition of "Our Merchant Marine March" by its composer-lyricist Earl W.
Clark. Mr. Clark, who is 76 years old, is a former Deputy Maritime Administrator of the United States Maritime Administration, as well as the holder of numerous other government posts and positions in the steamship industry.
The chorus, printed in the program for all to join in, went: "There's a banner in the breeze/ floating o'er the seven seas/It's the emblem of our merchant fleet/ our merchant marine/So we'll lend our heart and hand/to the commerce of our land/as we hail the Fourth Arm of Defense/our merchant marine." The program closed with a moving wreath ceremony and musical response in which wreaths to those who gave their lives serving the merchant marine were brought to the speakers' platform by sponsors representing government, labor and management. The wreath sponsors included Frank Drozak, executive vice president, Seafarer's International Union of N.A.; Thomas Martinez, national s e c r e t a r y - t r e a s u r e r , National Maritime Union of America; Vice Adm. W.F. Rea III, United States Coast Guard Eastern Area Commander, and Capt. Carl W. Swenson, executive vice president, Farrell Lines Incorporated.
Earlier in the day, the Reverend Monsignor Thomas McGovern, Port Chaplain, New York and New Jersey, and the Reverend James R. Whittemore, director of the Seamen's Church Institute, officiated at an ecumenical service at the Institute. Additional dais guests at the plaza ceremony included William O. Savage of Tampa, Fla., National Executive Committee, The Propeller Club of U.S.; Capt. Thomas A. King, Eastern Region Director, Maritime Administration; and Rear Adm. Arthur B. Engel, USCG (ret.), Superintendent, United States Merchant Marine Academy.
Maritime Day is observed by law since 1933, on May 22 of each year. It commemorates the departure from Savannah, Ga., on that date in 1819, of the S/S Savannah on the first trans-Atlantic voyage by any steamship. The Maritime Day program opening the 1978 World Trade Week observance in the Port of New York-New Jersey is sponsored by maritime government, labor and management, including both American and foreign-flag shipping companies, as well as related maritime associations and industries.
Following the hour-long ceremony in the plaza, a reception and luncheon was held for sponsors and guests at One World Trade Center, "Oval Room."
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