August 4, 1790, President George Washington put pen to paper and created the Revenue Cutter Service. That service of “a few armed vessels, judiciously stationed at the entrances of our ports, might at a small expense be made useful sentinels of the laws” has grown into America’s maritime first responder. For 221 years, the United States Coast Guard has protected Americans on the sea, protected America from threats delivered by sea and protected the sea itself.
As the only military service with the ability to enforce laws within our borders and the only law enforcement agency authorized to enforce them outside our borders, the Coast Guard has evolved from its early beginnings but perhaps never so much as it has over the past decade. As America prepares to recognize the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, Coast Guard men and women are deployed throughout the world sharing their expertise in border protection, drug interdiction and counter-terrorism with our allies while their Shipmates stand a taut watch protecting the homeland.
“Every day I am sustained by the enthusiasm, excitement and pride of being a member of our Service,” said Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Bob Papp in his annual Coast Guard Day address. “As we celebrate Coast Guard Day, I encourage the entire Coast Guard Family – active, reserve, civilian, retired, auxiliary and contractors – to take a moment and honor those who served before us to make the U.S. Coast Guard the premier maritime service it is today.”
Each week, Coast Guard Compass takes the opportunity to honor an individual throughout – and occasionally outside of – the service as Shipmate of the Week. On this Coast Guard Day, we invite all of you to share the story of a Coast Guardsman who has made a positive difference in your community in the comment section below.