US Merchant Marine Veterans Of WW2 Have Waited 75 Years And Counting
After several sessions of Congress (beginning with the 109th) failed to yield monetary benefits to our WWII Merchant Mariners to compensate for their absence of GI Bill benefits, it appeared that finally the 114th Congress (2015-16) would offer some overdue recognition in the form of the Congressional Gold Medal. The bill (H.R. 2992) passed in a special session of “legislation considered under suspension of the rules”; however, the Senate companion bill (S. 2989) did not garnish enough support. Again, our seagoing heroes of WWII were kicked under the rug. Closure would have to wait for another time.
S. 2127 was introduced in 2017 by Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski as the latest version of the WWII Merchant Mariner Congressional Gold Medal Act. In conjunction with 2018 National Maritime Day, pro-Merchant Marine champion Rep. John Garamendi stepped-up to introduce a companion bill in the House, H.R. 5879.
With efforts to gain compensation for missed GI Bill benefits essentially “dead in the water”, the base of WWII Merchant Mariners and supporters have readjusted to waging recognition battles on much smaller stages, such as seeing the inclusion of the U.S. Merchant Marine flag at local honor parks or appearing in interviews with their hometown TV/radio stations. But the Congressional Gold Medal Act still leaves the door cracked for one last shot at national recognition.
We must capture this opportunity to collectively honor our WWII mariners while a few of them are still living. From a maritime standpoint, we owe this group our support – this is our heritage. From a patriotic view, just consider how the world might be today without their service and sacrifice. Is this not worth a letter or phone call to your Congressional representatives?
H.R. 5879 & S. 2127: Let’s finish the job!
We ask that all Americans readers of gCaptain click HERE to support Gold Medal legislation and HERE to join AMMV. We also ask that all overseas readers support their local Merchant Navy organizations today.