The United States Coast Guard is a unique product of the American Revolution and the brainchild of Alexander Hamilton. Just as the concept of a democratic republic was born in the founding of the United States, the concept of a maritime constabulary force with both law enforcement authority and a national defense mission was born with the new Nation in the Revenue Marine, the Revenue Cutter Service, and then the US Coast Guard. Those who served were in Hamilton’s words “sentinels of the laws.” The first Homeland Security Secretary, Tom Ridge, said “if we didn’t have a Coast Guard, we would have to invent one.” That model of a maritime, multi-mission, military force is now emulated throughout the world. Through the Perfect Storm, from the roof tops of New Orleans, in the oiled waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and in the remote villages of Puerto Rico the Coast Guard defines itself everyday by its actions and the performance of its people. Our promise to the American public is: will we will protect you, we will guard you, we will save you. We are your guardians. Allan Jackson stunned the world after 9/11 with his song “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning.” When you are in the water without hope your world has stopped turning and nothing else matters. We in the Coast Guard have the responsibility and distinct honor to “restart worlds” every day, a noble calling in every sense of the word. I have had that same opportunity in my career and am grateful for it.
By Thad Allen, Academy Fellow