Today, the men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard celebrate their 218th birthday. Originally established to, “…enforce tariff and trade laws and to prevent smuggling” (Coast Guard Historian), the Coast Guard has grown into a full-fledged branch of the military, and so much more. The service has become the cornerstone to the Department of Homeland Security, and wherever a threat is perceived, it will be there.
Today’s Coast Guard patrols the waters adjacent to the United States, yes. But Coastguardsmen are also in the thick of the fight in the Middle East, and the most visible and effective counter-narcotics branch of the government.
But at its core is the never-wavering focus on saving lives. When a vessel is in trouble, when weather threatens, or when a soul is in the water, there is no more inspiring sight than the arrival of the orange and white on the scene. Dispair becomes hope and fear becomes trust, because the victims know that they are not alone.
It is a proud service, and a vital one. Its members are brave and accomplished, and I am darned proud to have served alongside them.
The Coast Guard has an ethos:
I am America’s Maritime Guardian.
I serve the citizens of the United States.
I will protect them.
I will defend them.
I will save them.
I am their Shield.
For them I am Semper Paratus.
I live the Coast Guard Core Values.
I am a Guardian.
We are the United States Coast Guard.
That says it all.
Happy birthday, Coast Guard – you are our heroes of the week.