From the Commandant: The embodiment of Service to Nation

Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va., May 25, 2015. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va., May 25, 2015. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Written by Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft.

On this Memorial Day, we reflect on those who have crossed the bar. We honor their lives, we remember their service and we show our respect for the sacrifices they and their loved ones made in Service to Nation.

We are also reminded of the inherent risk in the missions we execute every day, at war and in peace. As our men and women serve around the world, often in harm’s way, never have we accomplished more – across the full spectrum of complex maritime operations – than we do today.

President Barack Obama renders honors during a wreath-laying ceremony in recognition of Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va., May 25, 2015. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

President Barack Obama renders honors during a wreath-laying ceremony in recognition of Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va., May 25, 2015. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Coast Guard cutters are sailing the Persian Gulf, achieving national objectives alongside our DOD counterparts. Sector and station personnel are standing the watch, ensuring the safety of boaters around the country as we start the summer boating season. Incident management teams are deployed, responding to maritime contingencies. Marine inspectors are aboard merchant ships, facilitating commerce on our maritime transportation system. Aircrews are taking flight on living marine resources patrols, safeguarding our Nation’s natural resources. Mission support elements are working logistical challenges, enabling operational execution.

Yet, as the Coast Guard of the 21st century, we will have to meet tomorrow’s challenges in an operating environment more complex, high-tech, intelligence-driven and specialized than at any time in our nearly 225-year history.

We do our best to overcome these challenges as we manage, mitigate and reduce operational risk; we strive for proficiency where excellence is our standard; we seek to put the best doctrine and systems in place; and we innovate to find solutions. Still, in the end, no matter what doctrine, training and equipment we put in place, it is our most precious resource – our people – who will head out on a dark and stormy night so that others may live.

Since 1790, Coast Guard men and women have put Service before self. It is in our ethos, our character and our DNA. Coast Guardsmen who gave their all – our Coast Guard heroes – reignite our Duty to People, strengthen our Commitment to Excellence and embody Service to Nation. May their last full measure of devotion serve as a source of strength and inspiration as we remain Semper Paratus, Always Ready.

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