National Maritime Day, observed in the U.S. on May 22 every year, celebrates the great maritime industry and the people behind it.

The occasion was first declared in 1933 to commemorate the steamship Savannah's voyage from the U.S. to England, marking the "first successful crossing of the Atlantic Ocean with steam propulsion," according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

It has also been celebrated annually to honor the Merchant Marine. These are the ships of a nation that can transport people, materials or goods and are considered a nation's important "economic assets." Today, the occasion has expanded to celebrate the entire maritime industry and the people who are part of it.

"The United States has always been and will always be a great maritime nation. From our origins as 13 British colonies, through every period of peace and conflict since, the Merchant Marine has been a pillar in this country's foundation of prosperity and security," the DOT noted.

"They power the world's largest economy and strengthen our ties with trading partners around the world, all while supporting our military forces by shipping troops and supplies wherever they need to go," it added.

The theme for this year's celebration is "Culture, Climate and Commitment: The Future of the Merchant Marine." Events will include panels on how to build the "best future" for the industry, but anyone can really celebrate National Maritime Day, whether or not they know someone who works in the industry.

For instance, those who live close to a port city may want to check if there are any events they can attend on that day, while others may simply visit a maritime museum. Some may also take a little time to learn more about this important industry, which former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon described as the "backbone of global trade and global economy." People may also choose to read a book about the industry or watch some interesting movies or documentaries about it.

Perhaps one of the simplest ways to celebrate the day would be to post on social media using #NationalMaritimeDay. Through this simple way, one can express gratitude and appreciation for the many brave people who keep the industry thriving.

The Suez Canal is one of the world's most important trade routes, providing passage for 10 percent of all international maritime trade The Suez Canal is one of the world's most important trade routes, providing passage for 10 percent of all international maritime trade Photo: AFP / CHRISTOS GOULIAMAKIS