A Day of Remembrance for Mariners

May 26, 2009

by the Rev. Megan Sanders

On May 19, the Seamen's Church Institute held a memorial service in honor of those members of the Merchant Marine who have given their lives in service to our country. The Edwin J. O'Hara and Dennis A. Roland chapters of the American Merchant Marine Veterans were among those in attendance at the American Merchant Mariners’ Memorial in Battery Park with over fifty people gathered to reflect, pray, and remember.

The sun shone brightly as the US Coast Guard Sector New York presented colors and the Rev. Jacques Girard and I presided at the service. SCI staff members Tami Kurtz and Jeanette DeVita read sacred texts; Jena Tumbleson led the National Anthem; and Glen Oxton played the bugle as the Rev. David M. Rider, SCI’s Executive Director, laid the memorial wreath on the water in honor of our fallen veterans.

After the service, SCI staff served lunch to more than ninety guests on the Top Deck of our 241 Water Street building. Those in attendance included Captain Robert O'Brien, Commander, USCG Sector New York; and RADM Allen B. Worley, Superintendent of the United States Merchant Marine Academy. Rider and O'Brien addressed the assembled group, both reaffirming the support that SCI and the USCG seek to offer the Merchant Marine community. They spoke about what it means to serve the mariner on all levels and in all contexts. I have the privilege of serving the O'Hara Veterans’ Chapter as their chaplain.

Maritime Day is a special day set aside to offer our gratitude for service and sacrifice and acknowledge our awareness of the dangers mariners have faced along their journeys. I know it means a great deal to our veterans that we honor those who have died and those still with us with a day of remembrance. They held their heads a little bit higher that day—with dignity pulsing through their veins. I am proud to serve among these men and women. Thanks be to God for their lives and all that they have given us.

View a YouTube video of the memorial service at Battery Park, courtesy Amver Maritime Relations.