African Americans comprise the longest serving minority in the United States Coast Guard. They were the first to serve and, in many ways, were the first to sacrifice, pioneering the way ahead for all minorities in the Coast Guard, U.S. military, and the nation.
Tag: lighthouse service
In 1790, Alexander Hamilton established a small fleet of coastal law enforcement vessels to patrol off East Coast seaports. Over the next 228 years, the service experienced rapid growth in its geographic area of responsibility, mandated missions, and organization through mergers with other maritime services, reorganizations, and transfers from one federal agency to another. These frequent changes demanded remarkable flexibility and resourcefulness of the Coast Guard. The service has lived-up to its motto Semper Paratus by adapting and evolving to meet the nation’s changing needs emerging as a global responder known and respected at home and abroad.
When many think about the Coast Guard, they think of the modern, sea-going service that remains ‘Always Ready’ to answer calls for help. But where did our Nation’s Coast Guard come from? The Coast Guard traces its history directly from the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, or RCS, created on Aug. 4, 1790 to protect the nation’s revenue laws at sea and to discourage smuggling, which had become a national pastime.
This month’s commemoration of women’s history highlights the achievements of women in the Coast Guard and celebrates their qualities of character, courage and compassion. The Coast Guard is unique among others in that women joined the professional ranks in the Lighthouse Service decades before the Civil War. They were typically hired when their husbands or fathers, who were the keepers, fell ill or passed away. But there were a few who obtained an appointment in their own right.