All the branches of the U.S. Armed Forces deserve a special day, but every August 4, we celebrate the brave men and women who make up the United States Coast Guard as well as those who came before them.
History of National Coast Guard Day
While the modern-day U.S. Coast Guard can be traced back to 1915, the organization dates back to August 4, 1790, when Congress created the Revenue-Marine. It’s the oldest continuous seagoing service in the United States and has been involved in every major U.S. war since its inception.
The Coast Guard began with just 10 vessels to enforce the early U.S. tariff laws. After President Woodrow Wilson combined the Revenue Marine with the United States Life Saving Service, the U.S. Coast Guard we know today was on board to enforce maritime law and save lives.
The Coast Guard is now controlled by the Department of Homeland Security during peacetime, but it was formerly under the arm of the U.S. Treasury Department followed by the Department of Transportation.
Today, National Coast Guard Day is celebrated by active-duty Coast Guard members and veterans. However, many civilians want to get in on the celebrations, too.
The town of Grand Haven, Michigan is also lovingly known as Coast Guard City, USA and hosts the annual Coast Guard Festival every August. It’s the largest community celebration of an American Armed Forces branch in the country since its inception in 1937. In 2021, about 350,000 people attended the festival.
Multiple cities actually host events to celebrate the Coast Guard. Eureka, California hosts a Coast Guard Ball every year, and other cities in Alabama, North Carolina, Alaska, Maine, and Virginia are all proud of their Coast Guard personnel, reservists, retirees, and auxiliarists.
Celebrating Coast Guard Volunteerism
There are many ways to be a member of the U.S. Coast Guard, but not all require making the military a full-time career.
The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary is a uniformed volunteer branch made up of about 26,000 Americans who use their free time to support the Coast Guard, improve boating safety, and enhance U.S. port and waterway security.
For those interested in a rewarding volunteer opportunity to serve their country and participate in a civilian career, the Coast Guard Auxiliary is a great opportunity. The auxiliary is actually quite unique — civilians are trained, uniformed, and directed by elected commanders while also under the supervision of the U.S. Coast Guard.
Auxiliary members are required to own their own boat and have special important skills such as SCUBA diving. While there is no monetary compensation for the work, many auxiliary members say the fellowship and pride outweigh any paycheck.
During an average day as a volunteer, auxiliarists can conduct more than 375 vessel safety checks and teach boating safety to 550 boaters. Many of the safety courses began after word spread about hunters and fishers injured in mishaps had no official boat safety training.
Classes alone have saved hundreds of Americans thanks to education and prevention, while auxiliarists save hundreds more lives from boating accidents annually.
FSR is proud to celebrate the Coast Guard. Happy National Coast Guard Day!