Admiral Robert J Papp, 24th Commandant of the Coast Guard issued a message today in recognition of the 220th Birthday of the United States Coast Guard. His message, as printed in the Coast Guard Compass (August 4, 2010):
Today, as it is our custom, we celebrate on the 4th day of August, the anniversary of the establishment of our Service.
The creation of the Revenue Cutter Service closely followed the birth of our Nation. Two hundred and twenty years ago today, or only fourteen years after the date of the Declaration of Independence, President George Washington signed an act of the First Congress providing for the creation of the Revenue Cutter Service.
While I could use this opportunity to recognize the outstanding work of our Active Duty, Reserve, Civilian and Auxiliary members over the past year in Haiti, Deepwater Horizon and across our many missions, I choose instead to honor your outstanding performance by using this occasion to reflect upon what it means to be a Coast Guardsman.
As Coast Guard men and women, we share a bond of pride in our rich heritage and a common purpose to uphold our honorable traditions.
We are defined by unsung heroism and selfless service. We defend our Nation. We risk our lives to save others. We give our utmost when cold, wet and tired. Countless times, we have extended our arm down into the water to rescue those in peril from the sea. We will unhesitatingly extend that same arm to help a shipmate in need.
Coast Guardsmen are always ready. We perform our security, humanitarian and environmental response missions with an unrelenting sense of pride. When disaster strikes, whether natural or manmade, we are first on scene. We are often the last to depart.
Coast Guardsmen are agile, adaptable and multi-missioned. Born as revenue cuttermen, lighthouse keepers, steamboat inspectors and surfmen, we have expanded to meet the maritime needs of our Nation. We are still the keepers of the lights, but we also now patrol far more distant waters. We readily go wherever there are important, difficult and dangerous maritime duties to be performed.
Coast Guardsmen are shipmates; they are family. Though our Service has grown, it is still small enough that we know our shipmates by name. We follow their careers. Their successes and achievements are a matter of interest and pride to the entire Service. This reason is also why it cuts deep when we lose a shipmate. We assemble to carry out the manners of our profession, to grieve their loss and honor their service, and we collectively feel the sorrow. This year has been no exception. We know their names. We know our lost shipmates and we miss them. As the Coast Guardsman’s creed states, we revere that long line of expert seamen who by their devotion to duty and sacrifice of self have made it possible for us to be a member of a Service honored and respected, in peace and in war, throughout the world.
This is our chosen profession. This is our way. This is what we do. We are privileged to be members of a very unique Service that, due to our collection of missions, and legacy agencies, sometimes defies logic when someone attempts to classify us, or to place a label on us. For this reason, whenever I am asked to describe what I am, I always reply with pride, I am a Coast Guardsman. We are the men and women of the United States Coast Guard, past and present.
On this Coast Guard day, and for the many that will follow, we will continue to faithfully serve. Stand a taut watch.
Admiral Bob Papp