Tribute by President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Tribute by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the Seventh Anniversary of the Merchant Marine Cadet Corps


Thursday, March 15, 1945

A tribute to the Cadet-Midshipmen of the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, Long Island, N.Y., which is celebrating its seventh anniversary today, was conveyed in a letter from President Roosevelt to Vice Admiral Emory S. Land, USN, retired, War Shipping Administrator.

Since its founding in 1938 the Academy has graduated 6,000 young Americans as merchant ship officers. More than 140 have lost their lives in war service as the result of enemy action.

President Roosevelt’s letter, read to the Cadet Corps at the ceremonies this afternoon at Kings Point by Capt. Edward Macauley, USN, retired, Deputy War Shipping Administrator follows:

“On the seventh anniversary of the founding of the United States Merchant Marine Cadet Corps, I extend my congratulations upon the service the Cadet Corps is rendering the Nation by adequately and efficiently training young men as officers of our Merchant Marine.

“I know that the young Cadet-Midshipmen of the Cadet Corps have gone to sea in the face of peril and that many have sacrificed their lives. They and the price they have paid toward maintaining freedom shall long endure in the memory of a grateful nation. I know of their love for the sea, their loyalty to their ships, and I am confident of their continued success in the ultimate peacetime commerce in which this country must surely engage.

“To the United States Merchant Marine Cadet Corps and to the Training Organization of the War Shipping Administration, of which it is a part, I send my congratulations and best wishes.”

“With a deeper understanding than is given to most landsmen, a seafaring man whose life has been spent contesting the elements finds man-made tyranny and inequalities insufferable. Perhaps that is why men such as your son have shown themselves ready to give their lives in a Service where the rewards of heroism are few, and which demands of its men the grimmest form of courage. It takes an iron fortitude and indifference to danger to be a good merchant seaman in this war. Their duty is to face on every voyage the constant threat of death and to go on with their work, accepting this threat as a commonplace risk of each day’s job. And when their luck runs out, their duty is to accept death, too, in the same spirit of unflinching loyalty to their Service and the task assigned them.”

From the condolence letter sent by the War Shipping Administration to the next of kin of merchant seamen killed during World War II. The letter was written by American playwright Eugene O’Neill, who drew upon his own experience as a merchant seaman.

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