-- The House has approved legislation by Rep. Steve Horn authorizing up
to $500,000 in federal support for a planned memorial in San Pedro to
the sacrifices of the U.S. merchant mariners during World War II.
money will help fund an addition to the Merchant Marine Veterans
Memorial, which is next to the Maritime Museum.
owe much to the brave mariners past and present who have served in the
Merchant Marines,'' Horn, R-Long Beach, said in support of the bill.
""The American Merchant Marine Memorial Wall of Honor will
symbolize the debt we owe to those who have served so bravely.''
legislation was included in the Maritime Policy Improvement Act, which
the House passed Wednesday on a 415-3 vote. Senate passage is expected
later this year.
measure would authorize the secretary of transportation to make grants
of up to $500,000 to the foundation building the memorial addition. That
would be about half of the expected total cost of the project.
authorization, if approved by the Senate and signed by the president, is
only the first hurdle. Congressional supporters then must fight to get
the money appropriated.
addition to the memorial will be a series of polished black stone walls,
similar to the Vietnam War Memorial here in Washington. The walls will
be engraved with the names of the more than 700 U.S. civilian cargo
ships that were sunk during World War II and the more than 7,000
merchant mariners who died in that war and later conflicts.
memorial also will honor the merchant mariners who were held as
prisoners of war or received the Distinguished Service Medal, one of the
highest decorations for valor awarded to civilians in national service.
than 250,000 men and women served in the U.S. Merchant Marines during
World War II, crewing the ships that carried vital supplies to America's
allies and to U.S. troops overseas. The ships were prime targets for
German and Japanese submarines and aircraft.
runs across the North Atlantic and into the Barents Sea to ports in the
Soviet Union were particularly deadly, with some convoys losing half
their ships. One of every 32 sailors serving on Merchant Marine vessels
during the war died, a higher percentage of casualties than any of the
armed services, Horn noted.
Despite their valuable service to the war effort and their high causalities, the merchant mariners were not recognized as veterans until 1988.