Merchant Navy Veterans Day
Ottawa - September 2, 2011
Canada's Merchant Navy was vital during the Second World War, and its ships transported desperately needed equipment, fuel, supplies and personnel to aid Allied efforts in Europe and around the world. Merchant mariners were again called into service during the Korean War from 1950-1953.
More than 1,700 Merchant Navy personnel lost their lives between 1939 and 1945. This figure includes Canadian seamen who were lost while serving aboard Canadian and Allied ships. Merchant Navy ships made over 25,000 voyages from North America to Britain during the war.
Merchant mariners received little recognition, despite the important role they played. The Canadian government did not officially recognize merchant mariners as Veterans until 1992 and, until 2000, Merchant Navy Veterans were ineligible for some benefits and rehabilitation programs designed to help Veterans readjust to civilian life. It wasn’t until June 2003 that the House of Commons passed an Act to recognize September 3 as Merchant Navy Veterans Day.
I was proud to lay a wreath this past Sunday, August 28, at the National War Memorial and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier here in Ottawa in honour of Canada’s Merchant Navy Veterans. Setting aside a day to honour our Merchant Navy Veterans is but one small way that we can give long-overdue recognition to the service and sacrifice of Canada’s merchant mariners.
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