Thursday, May 18, 2017

U.S. Coast Guard Academy Graduates: You deserve to be proud

Yesterday's commencement ceremony for the 2017 graduates of the Coast Guard Academy included a speech by the President, which many have said missed the mark when it comes to inspiration. A retired rear admiral in the US Navy posted his thoughts about the speech, calling it "shameful."

His post calls out the speech does not fill in the missing part: the inspiration. The same treatment was given elsewhere too. I heard about the  speech late yesterday, and it bothered me that the cadets who spent four years learning, training, and practicing for their careers would be sent forth feeling slighted instead of inspired.

Since it stayed on my mind, I checked out the Coast Guard today. Just today, the following items are in the news about the Coast Guard's activities:

  • USCG unloaded $500 million worth of cocaine
  • USCG conducted search and rescue exercises
  • USCG ended live tissue training
  • USCG searched for a missing plane carrying four people near the Bermuda Triangle
  • USCG medevaced a man near New Orleans, and he is in stable conditions now
  • USCG rescued three people from a sinking shrimp boat

That's just today's news! If you were commissioned yesterday, you are going to be working hard! The Coast Guard saves lives, protects waters, and guards America's borders. Your mission is action, not talk. You are expected to execute your missions guided by the Coast Guard principles of honor, respect, and devotion to duty. You have been trained to live by those principles. Upon your graduation, you commit yourself to those three principles, and you can be proud of doing so.

The Coast Guard Academy's website has a section dedicated to Family and Friends. It includes the following message:
Right now, you're probably filled with all kinds of emotions. Pride. Concern. Delight. Anxiety. And that's understandable. After all, your loved one is considering joining the Coast Guard. 

I wonder if your family and friends who joined you for your commencement and supported you these last four years remember feeling those emotions at the beginning of your journey. They knew you before you attended this institution, and they know you have changed because of it. Of all the emotions listed, I hope the one that stuck is pride.

Their concern and anxiety have likely diminished over four years because they know you were trained by experts and you worked hard. They were delighted you committed to the Coast Guard and are delighted you graduated.

But pride is deeper. Your loved ones were proud of you on your first day at the Academy, they were proud on your last day, and they will be proud of the work you will do every day of your career. I don't think parents of history majors like myself feel that same pride. Accountants, lawyers, and engineers are loved by their families and friends, but it's not the same as what your loved ones feel about you. Yours are proud. Yours will be proud of you every day.

You make all of us, the public, proud. The public might not know much about how you do what you do, but we will know the results. We will hear stories about you getting drugs out of the country, rescuing workers from sinking ships, and giving families peace with information about plane crashes. The public needs you, and is grateful you took this journey at the Academy so you can be commissioned into the Coast Guard.

When we hear the stories, your names won't be mentioned. We won't know, but you will. You deserve to be proud of your graduation, and you deserve to be proud of the work you will do to protect the United States of America. 

Photo credit to CGA