Merchant Marine Monument
Merchant Marine, Navy Armed Guard
honored in AB with monument
Beaches Veterans Memorial Park held a dedication ceremony on Palm Sunday (April 2, 2023) for the new Merchant Marine monument donated to the park. The monument honors the men and women of the U.S. Merchant Marine and the Navy Armed Guards.
Palm Sunday is the traditional day for the Blessing of the Fleet throughout the world; ceremonies are held annually nationwide. The new monument joins other memorials in place at the Atlantic Beach park on West First Street off Mayport Road, including one with chaplins’ names in pavers from various conflicts, and the bricks commemorating the 37 crew members lost on the USS Stark.
The monument’s placement in Atlantic Beach was coordinated by the Naval Order of the United States Florida First Coast Commandery, the U.S. Merchant Marine Associations in Jacksonville and Cape Coral, Fla., and the City of Atlantic Beach. This monument becomes a sister monument to monuments in Coral Springs, Fla., and elsewhere. The monument’s purchase was made possible by a donation from the Gunterberg Foundation and the Carol Culliton family.
“Today we are looking back at the sea services, through the eyes of our Merchant Marine force, to remember those who kept the sea open through some tortuous years to keep Western Europe supplied against an ominous threat from Nazi Germany,” said U.S. Navy (Ret.) Capt. Robert Whitkop, the Naval Order of the United States’ commander general.
The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 is a United States federal statute that provides for the promotion and maintenance of the American merchant marine. Among other purposes, the law regulates maritime commerce in U.S. waters and between U.S. ports. During World War II, nearly 250,000 civilian merchant mariners served as part of the U.S. military, transporting supplies and personnel. Between 1939 and 1945, 9,521 merchant mariners lost their lives, a per capita casualty rate greater than those of each U.S. Armed Forces branch.
Sunday’s ceremony included remarks from Jacksonville Beach resident Charlie Sellers, a retired U.S. Navy and Merchant Marine officer who spearheaded the effort to install the monument. The monument blessing ceremony was conducted by the Rev. Father Raphael LaVilla of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Atlantic Beach.
For information on the monument or Beaches Veterans Memorial Park, email email@example.com or call (904) 247-5804.