The date for the U.S. Coast Guard’s birthday is August 4 and was on Friday this year. I let it slip up on me so had already written the bulletin article for the week ending on August 5.  I still wanted to honor the Coast Guard for their 227th birthday.  When you get to be that old, no one ought to forget your birthday.
With the Coast Guard, it is a little like the actual birthday of some people I know.  It depends.  If you ask them what their birthday is and they tell you where their family originated. It wasn’t necessary for me to know it, but with my question about the birthday of the Coast Guard, I was told that it didn’t start out as the Coast Guard.  I was told that her actual official history began on August 4, 1790, when the first Congress authorized the construction of ten vessels to enforce federal tariff and trade laws and to prevent smuggling.  But it wasn’t known as the Coast Guard, but rather known as the Revenue Marine and the Revenue Cutter Service.  I expected a simple answer, but apparently, the individual wanted to make sure I knew the complete history of the Guard.  As stated, the service began with that long-legged name, but received its present name in 1915 under an act of Congress that merged the Revenue Cutter Service with the Life-Saving Service.  When I asked about the birthday, I was given the history and background of the Coast Guard. Upon receiving that information in response to my question reminds me or my frequently regretted greeting to some people, “How’re you?” They take that as a request, and launch off into a two-hour coverage of their medical problems.
It was interesting to me that in 1939 President Franklin Roosevelt transferred the Lighthouse Service to the Coast Guard.  I don’t know who had that responsible before, but it would be logical that the Coast Guard would maintain and operate the nation's lighthouses.  Who else would be responsible for that?  I also found that the Coast Guard is one of the oldest organizations of the federal government. Until Congress established the Navy Department in 1798 they served as the nation's only armed force afloat. The Coast Guard protected the nation throughout their long history and served proudly in every one of the nation's conflicts. Our national defense responsibilities remain one of their most important functions even today.  She used to be under the Treasury Department, but is now under the Department of Homeland Security. In times of war, or at the direction of the President, the Coast Guard serves under the Navy Department.
A big point about the Coast Guard is that it is the smallest of the five military services. In the view of the world, that would be an indication of their lack of importance.  From her history and victories, it is apparent that small doesn’t equate to importance.  Thinking of a small force, I’m reminded of God’s instruction to Gideon in JUDGES 7:1-8.  Gideon was facing a “host of Midianites”. No problem! He had 32,000 troops. Amazingly, God told him he had “too many”.  God cut the number down to 300. A “host” is a bunch of Midianites but 300 was all needed. With God, it is never the number involved. As Jonathan stated in I SAM. 14:6, “there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few.” How comforting it is to know that God is going to bring victory.  However, how frightening, to contemplate going into battle without God on our side.
Jesse R. Spurlock
Pastor Emeritus,
Highland Park Baptist Church


305 W. Jarman Dr.,

Midwest City, OK 73110

(405) 830-3940

e-mail: jesse.spurlock@cox.net

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