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What does the term ritual bring to mind? For some, it might be participation in a religious practice such as the observance of mass or communion in the Christian tradition. For others, it may include the walk across a stage at a graduation ceremony to receive a diploma. In both cases, and many others, participants in rituals may dress in special clothing, use specific words and language, or repeat certain actions or behaviors.

Laying the Keel

In this photograph, a group of workers is being led in prayer by a minister before laying the keel of a Liberty ship. The minister is accompanied by a worker who has removed his hard hat, presumably in prayer. Both men are holding onto a large bar that has been suspended by cable and rope from above. A group of workers surrounds the two men as the keel is lowered into place. Although it may lack the pomp and circumstance of other rituals in the shipyard, the significance of this particular moment during the ship's construction is marked by the call to a higher power to oversee its success.

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