Every year on May 22, The United States observes National Maritime Day, a holiday created in 1933 to recognize the maritime industry. It was May 22, 1819 that the American steamship, Savannah, set sail from Savannah, Georgia on the first ever transoceanic voyage under steam power. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Maritime Division, “The United States has always been and will always be a great maritime nation. From our origins as 13 British colonies, through every period of peace and conflict since, the Merchant Marine has been a pillar in this country’s foundation of prosperity and security. They power the world’s largest economy and strengthen our ties with trading partners around the world, all while supporting our military forces by shipping troops and supplies wherever they need to go.”
So what exactly is the Merchant Marine? The Merchant Marine is the fleet of ships which carries imports and exports during peacetime and becomes a naval auxiliary during wartime to deliver troops and war material. People who are in the Merchant Marine are referred to as mariners, seamen, seafarers, or sailors, but never Marines. People who are in the Merchant Marine are not military! They are civilians, just like us, and they were crucial to victory in World War II.
The Mariner Girl Scout program was officially launched in 1934, just one year after National Maritime Day was created in the United States. It was created for Senior Girl Scouts who were interested in nautical activities and whose troops had access to a body of water large enough to permit a comprehensive program of Mariner activities. By 1938, only one year before the launch of WWII in Europe when Germany invaded Poland, the Mariner Scout program had swept quickly throughout the country reaching a total registration of 3,484.
Although the Mariner Scout program was officially discontinued in 1963, today it has been re-instituted in a much smaller form.
Fun fact: Juliette Gordon Low was born and raised in Savannah, Ga., the same place from which the steamship Savannah set sail for the first ever transoceanic voyage. As a child, Juliette Low was sometimes affectionately called “the little ship under full sail” by her family!
This Sunday, April 5th is Easter Sunday… My, the year is just flying by, isn’t it?? Do you have plans for the Easter weekend?
My daughter’s birthday falls on Easter this year. I have a handful of Girl Scout themed birthday gifts that I’ve planned to hide in some of her Easter eggs this Sunday and that got me thinking… it’s not too late to plan an Easter community service project with your troop! I think I’m gonna run to the dollar store this week and scoop up a bunch of baskets, plastic grass, candy, and trinkets, and my daughter and I can deliver some baskets to the local women’s and children’s shelter this weekend!
If you do a quick Google search of “Girl Scouts Easter basket” there are tons of examples of girls doing their part for the community at this time of year.One particular photo that caught my eye was of some Junior Girl Scouts loading up the back of a minivan/SUV with baskets:
The girls above are from Middletown, Ohio and you can read all about their awesome community service project here in this article from the Journal-News.
Another great idea comes from this Glasgow, NY Junior troop who were working on their Bronze Award! As their Take Action project, these girls made Easter baskets for pups to help raise money for their local animal welfare association. Check out these amazing girls here at the Glasgow Daily Times.
Girl Scouts making Easter baskets as a community service project is a wonderful idea, but it’s certainly not only a contemporary one. Here’s a 1939 image from “Old News” of the Ann Arbor, Michigan District Library of Brownies weaving baskets at their meeting that will later be filled and no doubt handed out to those less fortunate who need a little Easter pick-me-up during this time of year:
So make sure you enjoy your Easter weekend this year (and eat an extra Cadbury Egg for me while you’re at it)! Think about others at this time of year too and what you and/or your troop can do for them!
Happy Easter from the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta Archives Committee!