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With the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II being mere months away, one of the last major battles from that era appears to be near its conclusion.

The U.S. Senate by unanimous consent passed the Merchant Mariners Congressional Gold Medal Act (HR 550) with a minor language amendment on December 19. Having been passed unanimously by the House of Representatives on September 19, the bill now returns to the House for one more vote before it is sent to the White House for the President’s signature. Most reports state that could happen in January.

The measure authorizes the creation of a gold medal to honor World War II merchant mariners. The medal would be displayed in the American Merchant Marine Museum at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in New York. Duplicates then would be struck and made available to the public.

The MTD and its affiliates have worked for years with the American Merchant Marine Veterans (AMMV) to obtain further recognition for the mariners who served aboard U.S-flag commercial vessels during World War II. Despite seeing action and danger across the globe, merchant mariners were excluded for any type of veterans’ status until 1988, and then only received a fraction of what other veterans obtained. Merchant mariners suffered a casualty rate higher than every other branch of the service except the Marine Corps during the war.

The MTD joins with AMMV in saluting the bill’s sponsors – Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Representative John Garamendi (D-CA) – who have pushed for years for this recognition. The MTD will continue to fight for this measure until it safely is docked with full Congressional action and Presidential signature.