Sea History 125 - Winter 2008-2009

Page 23

a much grander office in the World Trade Center. OpSail '76 was thus another event rhar grew from an NMHS committee. Wirh OpSail still in rhe offing, I left South Street. When C ity authorities offered NMHS new quarters in rhe Fulton Street fireboat house in Brooklyn, we moved our public functions rhere. Norma produced Sea History from our home in northern Westchester, where she had young children ro raise--who eventually b ecame interested in rhe work. (While a college sophomore Joe Stanford, as a volunteer, compiled and edired Sea H istory's Guide to American and Canadian M aritime Museu ms, which sold out rapidly in rwo printings.)

The barque Elissa of Galveston (below left) and the Liberty Ship Jeremiah O 'Brien (right) were restored as working ships thanks to the $5 million Maritime H eritage Act secured by NMHS.




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The Amcriam Achic\'cmcn1 b)' Se-.t, Pan II c:isures of the European Conques1 of 1hc Oceans figurchr:ids in Miniature: Lloyd McCaffcry MARINf.. ART: William Br:.idford Sl'.i\ HISTORY FON KID.~

A Cause in Motion Though Kaiulani had slipped from our grasp in rhe Philippines, seized by a local scrap ya rd, we moved forward. Pursuing o ur mission with historic ships, we launched a campaign ro save rhe Cape Verdean immigrant packet Ernestina, the former Effie M Mo rrissey, a Grand Banks fi shing schooner and later an Arctic exploring vessel. This fi ve-year effort, led by Frank Braynard and Pere Seeger, succeeded in saving the ship through a broad-based effort. Much support came from rhe Cape Verdean community, w hich gained funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities-the first government support for a non -naval histo ri c ship. We failed in our effort ro save rhe Hudson River steamer A lexander Hamilton, the "white swan of the Hudson," which sank in a welter of divided responsibilities and unkept governmental commitments. 1l1en, in 1979 we secured a $5 million federal grant from rhe Maritime Heritage Fund with the support of Senators Warren Magnuson and Edward Ke nnedy. This money provided vital fundin g ro the barque Elissa, rhe Liberty ship Jeremiah O 'Brien, and other projects of national importance. Sea History's role proved pivo tal in these successes, and we felt it had ea rned the sobriquet of "The Journal of a Cause in Motion." Historic ships remain ed central in our interests, but in rhe 199 0s, inspired by a talk Walter Cronk.ire gave co dedicate rhe new NMHS headquarters in Peekskill, N ew York, we embarked on our M aritime Education Initiati ve to invo lve more Americans in rhe seafaring srory. 1l1e United Stares' relationship with rhe sea had


Under another act, partial funding was secured to send the O'Brien to No rmandy for the 50th anniversary ofD -D ay-a graphic illustration ofsea history as world history.

built rhe nation and done so much for rhe cause of freedom. 1l1e ships marrered, after all, because you can't go ro sea w ithout rhem and rhey provide a tangible link to rhis important story. W e began to turn more of our artemion ro the historical tapes try of which the ship was the organizing symbol , mankind's many-stranded, flowing experience of seafarin g. Hisrory, after all, is nor cooped up in rhe arric of rhe past; ir has irs own continuing reali ty and li ving conn ections ro the presem-and ro rhe co urse allead. "The sea is one," runs the rime-honored naval precept, and we believe this ro be true also of what 1l1omas Jefferson o nce called "rhe ocean of time opening upon us." Acting in this worldwide and ages-long perspecti ve, we were able ro help secure recognition of m ercham seamen's rights ro medical care and pension fund s for their perilous volumeer service in World War II, and were able to be of some help to the Liberty ship Jeremiah O'Brien on her epic voyage ro No rmandy on rhe 50rh annive rsary of D-Day in 1994, and ro her sister Liberty john W Brown in her tour of American Easr Coast pons. President Reagan and Senator Par Moynihan paid rribure ro these efforts in the pages of Sea History, and ve terans' groups and maritime unions supported our efforts in rh e work and remain involved in our educational programs today. Surely we must be interes ted in today's mariners to be rrue ro rhe heritage we celebrate in rhe seamen of bygone days. D eirdre O 'Regan , Sea History's editor for rhe pasr five years, has vigorously developed rhe policy of "on deck" reporting, using her feeling for seafarin g built up in extensive ocean voyaging under sail. Just back from a mo nth of diving on hisroric wrecks in rhe Pacific, she keeps her active engagemenr wirh pas r and presem seafaring. On her watch we can look forward ro new adva nces in our work, and ro new historical discoveries turned up in Sea H istory's lengthening wake. J, Peter Stanford is president emeritus ofthe National Maritime Historical Society and Sea Histo ry's editor-at-large.

SEA HISTORY 125 , WINTER 2008-09