SAVANNAH, GA – June 6, 2019 –Today, at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center, Savannah COMPASS, along with the Maritime Bethel of Savannah and International Seamen’s House, recognized the 75thanniversary of D-Day and the inaugural Liberty Day. During this event, a memorial wreath was released in the Savannah River, honoring all who served on D-Day. Recognizing the impact Liberty Ships had in America’s WWII victory, today’s event celebrated Savannah’s role and the shipyard responsible for the construction of 88 Liberty Ships during the war. Special guests attending this event included U.S. Congressional Representative Buddy Carter, Captain Hugo Ammerlaan (Royal Netherlands Navy Attaché) and Commander Richard McHugh (British Royal Navy Attaché).
On Nov. 20, 1942 the SS James Oglethorpe became the first of 88 identical Liberty Ships that would be constructed and launched at the shipyard on the Savannah River. Although she was lost in the North Atlantic after being torpedoed by German U-boats on March 16, 1943, the SS Oglethorpe initiated a monumental achievement for the state. Georgia produced 173, out of the 2,710 Liberty Ships built across the country, in yards in Savannah and Brunswick, mobilizing nearly 62,000 workers state-wide.
“Without Liberty Ships and the supplies they helped to deliver, and without the dedication of thousands of Americans, like the Savannahians that worked here in our own port, there is a good chance that we never would have seen D-Day at all,” said Savannah COMPASS Chairman Nick Farley. “The level of mobilization – almost 45,000 people were brought in to build these ships – is kind of hard to wrap your head around. But nevertheless, it was done.”
Today’s commemorative event began with a meet and greet, giving attendees the opportunity to speak with local veterans, and was followed by the Presentation of Flags (U.S. Army 3rdInfantry of Hinesville), The Sounding of Taps, Congressional Proclamation given by U.S. Representative Buddy Carter, and United States Coast Guard fly over. A special bell ringing served to honor those who gave their lives during WWII. The event also included a Liberty Ship display, tugboat demonstration, luncheon, presentation by historian Michael Jordan, and a tribute to veterans and military groups, led by Jimmy Ray, an active member of the Veterans Council of Chatham County. Dr. Elmer Towns, Savannahian and co-founder of Liberty University, delivered the keynote address.
The mission of Savannah COMPASS (Coalition of Maritime Port Assistance & Seaport Services) is to provide the best possible safety and well-being standards to all seafarers in full compliance with international, national and state laws, while fostering the history and interests of the Savannah maritime community. The Maritime Bethel and International Seamen’s House provide personal and practical support to seafarers who come into the Savannah port on ships from all over the world.
Please visit each organization’s respective website to learn more about the Maritime Bethel (www.MaritimeBethelatSavannah.org), International Seamen’s House (www.SeaMensHouse.org), or Savannah COMPASS (www.SavannahCompass.org).
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