by Susannah Skiver, Development Associate
On the morning of Tuesday, May 18, the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) led a celebration of National Maritime Day, a United States holiday recognizing the achievements and legacy of the maritime industry. Buffeted by wind and rain, SCI Port Chaplain the Rev. Megan E. Sanders guided a gathering of US Merchant Marine veterans, SCI staff, and friends in a religious service at the American Merchant Mariners’ Memorial in New York’s Battery Park. Afterwards, SCI invited participants back to its Water Street headquarters for a luncheon.
As vessels moved in and out of the New York Harbor, the Rev. Megan Sanders offered up prayers of thanksgiving for mariners’ faithful service and for the safety of those who work on the water. Accompanied by a bugler playing Taps, the casting of a memorial wreath on the choppy ocean shaped an emotional end to the service.
Back at SCI’s headquarters, a meal awaited guests on the Institute’s Top Deck. Joined by representatives of the US Coast Guard, including Chaplain Lt. David Rozanek, Merchant Marine veterans and others enjoyed fellowship and reveled in stories of days working on the water. Veteran Fred Rodriguez delivered an impromptu speech about the history of Maritime Day from the 19th century to 2010, receiving applause and sparking conversation among those assembled.
As cameras flashed, SCI staff mingled with the veterans, listening to their stories, thanking them for their service. “Hearing the tales of another generation of merchant mariners,” commented Julie Vroon, one of SCI’s organizers for the day’s events, “makes it clear how significant seafarers’ service is to our world.”