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As Prepared: World War II Merchant Mariner Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Remarks As Prepared by
Deputy Maritime Administrator Lucinda Lessley 
World War II Merchant Mariner Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony
Statuary Hall

My deepest thanks to Speaker Pelosi for hosting us as we honor the Merchant Mariners of World War II with the unveiling of the Congressional Gold Medal.

On behalf of the Department of Transportation and the Maritime Administration, I also extend gratitude to all of the Members of Congress who made this event possible.

I thank the U.S. Mint’s Office of Design Management, and I thank the MARAD employees and outside subject matter experts who, as members of the Stakeholders’ Committee, assisted in guiding the Medal’s design and development.

The Medal is an inspiring depiction of the resolve of the mariners who sailed into harm’s way for our Nation when, more than 80 years ago, America became what President Roosevelt called the “arsenal of democracy.” 

As the United States and our allies fought tyranny, it was Merchant Mariners who delivered this arsenal—and many of the soldiers who fought with it—to shores around the globe. 

Performance of this essential mission came at great risk. 

With reverence and gratitude, we remember the thousands of Merchant Mariners who were lost on more than 1,500 ships of the U.S. Merchant Marine during World War II, including 142 midshipmen from the United States Merchant Marine Academy who died while sailing as cadets. 

We also honor and thank the more than 240,000 Merchant Mariners who served during World War II. 

Sadly, many are no longer with us, but we are so fortunate to have with us here today veterans who can share their living memories.  We are inspired by your courage and example.  We are blessed by the democracy you helped preserve.  And we are honored to have the opportunity to be with you as the

Congressional Gold Medal is presented to commemorate all that you and so many more did for our nation.

Finally, as I close, I note that just as it was during World War II, our Merchant Marine remains vital to the movement of the cargoes and supplies on which our military depends. I thank the American mariners sailing today who support our defense and our economic success. 

Thank you all.