Maritime community unveils monument in downtown Wilmington

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — There is now a special tribute in downtown Wilmington for merchant marine veterans.

A group of mariners unveiled a memorial Monday at Riverfront Park to honor men and women who served on American merchant vessels.

Port of Wilmington officials, US Coast Guard members, veterans, and more were all there to remember the accomplishments of those who have done so much for the country.

“We have known for years that our memorial park in downtown Wilmington was missing something and that something was a memorial to the United States Merchant Marine,” Wilmington Propeller Club President Geoffrey Losee said.

This is the first monument in the Port City honoring the maritime community.

“It means a lot because the merchant mariners play a very important role not only for country but also for this community,” Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said.

Captain Henry Helgesen who served during World War II said the monument was a year in the making, but was more than long overdue.

“There is a word down near the bottom of it and it says grateful,” Helgensen said. “We are just grateful for the service that all these ships did and also for all the mariners.”

Across from the monument is a bench with hopes to invite visitors to Riverfront Park to sit and remember how we got to this day.

“This monument will hopefully stand as a tribute to those who have gone before and an inspiration who will go ahead,” said Losee.

In 1933, congress declared May 22 to be National Maritime Day in recognition of the steam ships advancement of ocean transportation.

Categories: Local, New Hanover

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