Folks gathered outside of the Union County Courthouse in
“We dedicate this monument to their memory,” Said Veteran and master of ceremonies, Bob Ross. “And to those who’ve paid the supreme sacrifice by giving their lives to the service of our nation”
Since 1775, the Merchant Marines have served alongside their military counterparts in every single war. But monuments like the one dedicated on Saturday are few and far between.
Eugene Barner joined the Merchant Marines after graduating high school in 1943. He finished training in
“We weren't even considered a veteran until 1988 almost 40 years after the fact,” Said Barner.
Barner was one of many stationed in
“As a young man out of school, it was exciting and it never got to the point to where I really felt it was dangerous.”
Others like Sr. Vice Commander Frank Casson, who represents the Merchant Marines in
"We stand on the shoulders of these men - these giants, and we must remember, and historians need to speak about what the Merchant Marines [did] in the past, [and] what their doing today," said Casson.
Many consider the Merchant Marines the backbone of the military during times of war, providing supplies and moving equipment necessary for battle. During World War II, 1 out of every 26 Merchants was killed in combat zones.
“The significance of this courthouse having this monument is a testimony and a testament to the courage and the dedication of these men and women who took on perils- unprecedented,” added Casson.The statue in