Aug. 4, 2011
Youll always be proud when you hear them play that tune, said Boatswain Mate Chief Clarence Ward Hollowell to the graduates of Lima 74. We were getting ready to march out of boot camp at Cape May, New Jersey.
That had to have been the most miserable, cold, diseased thirteen weeks of my life. When we first arrived, in the middle of the night, they shaved our heads, made us strip down, and put our civilian clothes, our shoes, any watches or rings, in cardboard boxes and address them to our home of record. All the while they were screaming at us and banging on steel trashcans with baseball bats. I would have climbed into that box if I could.
But at the end, Chief Hollowell was right. Wed always be proud when we hear the Coast Guards March, Semper Paratus (Always Ready), played.
We're always ready for the call,
We place our trust in Thee.
Through surf and storm and howling gale,
High shall our purpose be,
"Semper Paratus" is our guide,
Our fame, our glory, too.
To fight to save or fight and die!
Aye! Coast Guard, we are for you.
I am deeply grateful for the years I spent, enlisted and officer, in the Guard. It shaped my thinking. Not just about the military, but about life in general.
Recently, the pro-lifers in a Midwest state told me they regarded their governor as a friend. If we can get a bill through the legislature, we can usually get him to sign it, they said. They thought of him as a great improvement over his liberal predecessor. And, by that standard, he was.
I told my friends that when I was in the Coast Guard, we were always willing to give CPR to someone who washed up on the shore. If their friends managed to pull them through the pounding surf to our Lifesaving Station, we would surely give them coffee and donuts and a warm blanket.
But the reason people respect the Coast Guard is that they go out into the storm. They take risks. I compared the passive friendliness of that Midwestern governor with a genuine hero like Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. He never held back as a Congressman or Senator in Washington.
Inaugurated just last January, hes already championed bills in Topeka that would require abortion facilities at least to maintain no less than the safety and cleanliness standards that we demand of veterinary clinics and beauty parlors. He wants to cut off funding to Planned Barrenhood.
Sam Brownback moved without delay. And he didnt wait for his friends in the legislature to pull a bill through the body. He waded right in. Sam Brownback is always ready to save lives. Semper Paratus, Governor!
When I served in the Reagan administration, I was impressed, as every veteran was impressed, with the presidents great respect for the military. Under Jimmy Carter, we had been forbidden to wear the uniform of our country in the nations capital. When Reagan swept Carter out of office, he ordered us to wear our uniforms; we obeyed with pride.
All of us who worked for Ronald Reagan knew he had been a lifesaver. He rescued seventy-seven people when he worked as a teen lifeguard on the Rock River in Illinois. We were expected to know that number. That was part of being a true blue Reaganaut.
It was entirely fitting that this lifesaver would be the most pro-life president we ever had.
Saving lives changes your life. Ask anyone in a pregnancy resource center or a law abiding sidewalk counselor. It makes you know you have lived to a purpose. You are forever grateful. You know what the Hebrews meant when they wrote in the Talmud: He who saves one life, it is as if he saved the world entire.
On this 221st Birthday, I salute the U.S. Coast Guard, the Lifesavers.