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A long-deserved recognition for the merchant mariners of World War II now awaits final action by the U.S. Senate after the number of cosponsors for the Merchant Mariners Congressional Gold Medal Act (S. 133) reached the needed two-thirds mark.

The American Merchant Marine Veterans (AMMV) announced December 13 that 68 of the 100 Senators have signed on as cosponsors. Introduced by U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the measure has overwhelming bipartisan support.

Under the rules of the Senate, a bill cosponsored by two-thirds of the members may be brought to the floor for immediate action. No date for final passage has been announced.

An identical measure [offered by U.S. Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA)] passed the House of Representatives with a unanimous vote on September 19.

The legislation authorizes the creation of a gold medal to honor the Word 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.

Despite seeing action and danger across the globe during the war, merchant mariners were excluded for any type of veterans’ status until 1988. Even then, mariners received a fraction of what others who served during World War II obtained. Merchant mariners suffered a casualty rate higher than every other branch of the service except the Marine Corps during the war.

The MTD and its affiliates have worked with the AMMV for years to gain further recognition of the work performed by the World War II merchant mariners.