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Memorial Day is a time to remember and honor those lost while serving
This Memorial Day, we should all stop to remember the veterans who have given so much for us all. Among them are the American Merchant Marine veterans who are regularly overlooked.
The Merchant Mariners lost one in every 26 who served — the highest casualty rate of any service. The second highest was the U.S. Marine Corps. Through the first part of 1943, the Merchant Marine casualties were greater proportionately than in all the armed services combined. The Merchant Mariners fired the guns in defense of our country, were an active part of the Armed Forces during the war and like many other service members were taken Prisoner of War. They took part in every Allied landing right along with the other armed forces.
They were civilian mariners and sailed thousands of merchant ships that moved thousands of troops and millions of tons of our war material across the North Atlantic to the war in Europe and across the Pacific to the war against Japan. Their ships were lightly armed and relied upon protected convoys to complete those essential voyages. German and Japanese submarines and aircraft took a heavy toll.
Long overdue is the recognition of the heroic American Merchant Marine of World War II. Unlike other members of the Armed Forces, they were not granted formal recognition and benefits granted to other services by Congress at the end of the war in 1945. Most of these members are now 85 years or older and their numbers are diminishing every day. On this Memorial Day, it is time to acknowledge their belated contribution.