President Franklin Delano Roosevelt Statement on Maritime Day, May 22, 1942

Maritime Day, 1942 -- this is its first wartime observance -- a fitting occasion for all of us, and the people of the United Nations, to join in a salute to our Victory fleet; to pay deserved tribute to the brave men who man the gallant ships of our merchant marine, and those other heroes without uniforms, the shipyard and factory workers.

The tenth annual observance of Maritime Day bears more than ordinary significance for all the people of the Nation. At no time in our history have we been more dependent than we are now upon the productivity of our shipyards and the efficient operation of our cargo vessels. We are engaged in what is largely a war of ocean transportation. We must carry to the corners of the earth the men and materials of war; for our armed forces and for those of our allies.

A little more than a year ago we embarked upon the greatest shipbuilding program in history. No other Nation ever had attempted so vast a maritime enterprise. There were those who doubted our ability to succeed. Today I can assure you that we will perform this near-miracle of ship production. The Nation's shipbuilding capacity has been increased more than 500 percent. That of itself is an outstanding achievement.

We have been, we still are, confronted with a serious shortage of ships to carry the essentials of war. Submarines and the Axis aggressors have taken a heavy toll, but that problem, like the others confronting us, is being solved. Our ships are going through, and will continue to go through in growing numbers.

The American people have reason to be proud of the heroism and patriotism of the officers and seamen of their Victory fleet. During these dangerous days and nights on the sea lanes of the world, with danger lurking above, below, and on the surface, they do not falter in the performance of their duty. Hundreds of them render service far beyond the call of duty. It is gratifying that the Congress has recognized such heroism and authorized the bestowal of proper awards to these men of the sea, who are just vital to our ultimate victory as the men in the armed forces.

The Nation's maritime industry is writing a wartime preface to the most glorious chapter in our history. It is making a vital contribution to the immediate war effort, and clearing the way for America's full restoration to the position in world trade befitting so great a Nation.

President Roosevelt Maritime Day Proclamations
President Roosevelt Speeches and Statements

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