August 4, 2010

Coast Guard Day – United States

This holiday commemorates the founding of the U.S. Coast Guard in 1790 by Alexander Hamilton, then serving as Secretary of Treasury.

It wasn't called “Coast Guard” back then, but rather the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service. The U.S. was a brand-new nation, and it needed funds to function. The new Congress had passed tariffs (fees) on imported goods (items brought to the U.S. from other nations). But there was a lot of smuggling to avoid these tariffs. The young country needed a way to enforce the tariffs, and that meant military force. In other words, the ships and crews that made up the Revenue Cutter Service were armed.

The Revenue Cutter Service was asked to provide wintertime cruises to assist any sailors who needed help, as well as to enforce tariff laws. Eventually a separate service called Life Saving Service was formed to rescue shipwrecked sailors and travelers as well as to protect them from hurricanes and to provide safe refuge for survivors.

In 1915, the Revenue Cutter Service and the Life Saving Service were joined together by President Woodrow Wilson to form one organization: the Coast Guard.

Did you know...?

Like the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force, the Coast Guard is an armed and uniformed service—the oldest U.S. seagoing service.

The Coast Guard motto is “Semper Paratus,” or “Always Prepared.”

Nowadays the Coast Guard is made up of around 42,000 active-duty men and women (plus some reserves, auxiliarists, and civilian employees).

Learn more about the U.S. Coast Guard with these coloring pages.

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