Written by Coast Guard Commandant Adm.Paul Zukunft
For more than 227 years, the men and women of the United States Coast Guard have served for a cause far greater than themselves. This year is no different.
In late August the entire Coast Guard Family, our active duty, reserve, civilian, auxiliary and retired members responded to one of the largest mass rescue operations in our Nation’s history. With the floodwaters of Hurricane Harvey rising in Texas, our men and women saved more than 11,000 men, women and children. Yet, they did not rest. Days and weeks later, our Coast Guard again responded to hurricanes Irma and Maria. From Alaska and Guam to Maine and Michigan, Coast Guard men and women answered the call and continue to do so today – from delivering food, water and other critical supplies to remote regions to quickly reconstituting the ports to facilitate receiving supplies – our men and women are there.
Today’s workforce reflects the best of those who have served in the past – In this 99th commemoration of Veterans Day we honor our veterans not just with our thoughts – but with action; by serving those who served us.
I saw this spirit of service in action as I joined a group of Coast Guard members to help one of our own – Petty Officer 2nd Class Edgar Monita, a culinary specialist who serves at Sector Field Office Galveston. Like many Coast Guard families in the region, Edgar’s home was significantly damaged by Hurricane Harvey and his family has been displaced for nearly three months. Yet, he and all of the affected Coast Guard Service members continue to faithfully serve despite these hardships.
As part of the “Coasties helping Coasties” campaign, my wife Fran and I volunteered to help repair Edgar’s home. We were both significantly touched by the outpouring of support by the surrounding Coast Guard community. I witnessed our Coast Guard service members quietly offering words of encouragement and spreading hope as they worked together to help rebuild Edgar’s life and return his family to their home. For Edgar, and countless others affected by the hurricanes, there is no respite and no garrison. He continues to stand the watch, and his family stands by his side.
This is what veterans do. Veterans do not rest.
Today, let us echo President Abraham Lincoln’s guidance to care for those who have, “borne the battle.” Let us pause to reflect upon the selfless acts of America’s veterans – and then let us take action. I charge all of you to reach out to our Nation’s veterans and their families, reach out to our Coast Guard members who are facing challenges and obstacles, and help them.
Honor them today and serve each other all year.
Admiral Paul F. Zukunft