“1790-Congress authorized the Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton’s proposal to build ten cutters to protect the new nation’s revenue (Stat. L. 145, 175). Alternately known as the system of cutters, Revenue Service, and Revenue-Marine this service would officially be named the Revenue Cutter Service (12 Stat. L., 639) in 1863. The cutters were placed under the control of the Treasury Department. This date marks the officially recognized birthday of the Coast Guard.” (USCG)
Today, the Coast Guard is an internationally recognized military branch of the United States. It doesn’t just protect revenue, and its members don’t just guard the coast anymore. They are everywhere.
To those who live in the shadows, who feed on the helpless and desperate, the Coast Guard is a ruthless and tireless enforcer. Standing arm in arm with the other branches of the military, it battles terrorism every day – not only here, but all over the globe. A fierce protector of our coastline, it serves as an omnipresent barrier to smugglers and criminals trying to penetrate our borders by sea.
But to those caught in the clutches of nature’s fury, the Coast Guard represents salvation. And it is that image that is engraved in the hearts so many people. Sharing a trait with law enforcement officers and firefighters, Coastguardsmen sail toward danger when all instinct is to flee. They operate in some of the most destructive weather on earth, putting their lives on the line to save others. Some may question whether it is worth the risk. I would invite them to put themselves in the place of a frightened weekend sailor whose boat is capsizing in a sudden squall, or a merchant mariner caught in a typhoon hundreds of miles from land. Then I would ask them what their feelings would be when they saw the unmistakable white, blue and orange markings on the side of an approaching vessel or aircraft.
Then they will have their answer. It is worth it.
For 219 years the Coast Guard has stood ever vigilent, protecting our precious country and saving lives. And as long as this nation exists, it will continue to be there.
Happy Birthday, Coast Guard!