EDITORIAL — Maritime Day 2019: A time to remember

Published 9:00 am Thursday, May 23, 2019

Folks came to this far-flung, southeastern corner of Texas not for its land but for its shoreline.

Prospective investors like Sam Houston and Arthur Stilwell saw southern Jefferson County as a port — in the latter case, as a terminus for Stilwell’s railroad — with ready access to the sea and all it promised for trade.

That’s why National Maritime Day — celebrated May 22 — resonates here, especially for the Coasties, commercial fishermen, seafarers, longshoremen and more. We are a more-brisk-than-ever port population, a center of trade, with colorful characters, some from around the globe, stopping in from their global journeys for a shower and shave before shoving off. It’s the water that links us to the rest of the world, that delivers and exports our goods, that keeps us busy and makes us special.

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The 33rd Annual National Maritime Day Observance & Maritime Memorial Service reminds us of who we are. Steeped in patriotism and prayer, it recollects the mariners who put their lives on the line for our protection and prosperity.

It takes place at the Seaman’s Memorial Sundial, created more than four decades ago in honor of 31 mariners who lost their lives off the coast of North Carolina. They sailed on the SS Texaco-Oklahoma from Port Arthur, bound for Boston but lost their lives in a storm. Many were Port Arthur people, and had family members here.

That was something to think about Wednesday morning, with the sun high overhead, when the Coast Guard color guard presented the colors and Lauren Medrano led the Pledge of Allegiance. It was something to think about when Nikki Fitzgerald read from Psalm 107:

“Protect them where so e’er they go;

“Thus evermore shall rise to Thee

“Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.”

It was something to think about when Lorrie Taylor read from the Gospel of Mark, and Jesus rebuked the wind and said, “Quiet! Be still!” when a storm imperiled his sea-going followers.

We relish our coastal status and glory in the passage of massive tankers along the waterway — bringing cargo in, taking cargo out. We marvel in the jobs related to making us a thriving seaport and the men and women who make all of their myriad tasks work.

The theme for World Maritime Day on Wednesday was “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community” and Coast Guard Capt. Jackie Twomey, who holds awesome responsibilities for making this waterway safe and prosperous, recollected in lunchtime remarks many women whose service has made this port and this waterway work.

We congratulate and thank them for their efforts. We remember the Texaco-Oklahoma, and those who sacrificed their lives. We ask for smooth seas and calm winds, and that our mariners might rest at ease in the palm of a benevolent protector.


See also: ‘Maritime Day’: This city should embrace it