Amid the miasma that is the Florida Legislature, it’s obviously easy to lose sight of basic priorities — let alone a given bill. But here’s one that even the fiscally challenged House could sign off on. Florida Senate Bill 2562 won’t cost anything.
The bill would merely designate the Port of Tampa-based SS American Victory as “Florida’s Official State Flagship.” Arguably, in a time of war and world peril, this restored Merchant Marine ship would merit no less a distinction than Florida’s official designations for flower, tree, bird and song.
Built in 1945, American Victory carried supplies, equipment, ammunition and personnel to the Pacific Theater of World War II, Korea and Vietnam. It also transported humanitarian aid in helping to expedite the Marshall Plan.
The Merchant Marine, lest we ever forget, had the highest casualty rate of any service during WW II. It was also the only WW II service that was completely integrated. It was critically important to its time — and ahead of its time. Now seems an appropriate time to underscore that with the flagship designation. In so doing, we celebrate this state’s rich maritime history and honor thousands of Merchant Marine and Navy Armed Guard veterans.