Letter to the Commandant
A tribute and token of gratitude for the unsung heroic work done daily by the Coast Guard in the United States and by the coast guards of all nations. Dedicated to the men and women of the Coast Guard.
Guardians of the deep, watchmen of the sea,
when will thy appointed task come to end?
Thy ships sail in endless voyage, ever vigilant
for men and animals in distress upon the ocean.
Who will speak or mark thy toil and exertion,
make good thy selfless effort? Let me join my
voice and epic song to the chorus of men returned
from water-grave, and raise your humble service.
Men do not notice Atlas, or note the hidden heroes,
for brother and world expects the best of fellows
to spin the Earth. But you are the blessed – the brother
keepers, who rank with saint as first servants of Christ.
Truly you are angels of the waters, swearing life
to life-giving ministry – you are the echo of mariners
replying from beyond the gale, flying swiftly
to meet with refuge those lost amidst the waves.
No winter chill, nor frightful frost doth sway
your iron will to set high the price of human life,
and fulfill divine compassion with superhuman
effort, standing foot away from helmsman’s call.
You as constant as the northern star are, one
sure promise, as the sway of surf: you are the hands
of God that calm the tempest with embrace
of rescuer, and console the widows of the sea.
Even when heaven itself hides its face, you light
stars upon the waters, sound the mountains men
fly over, and the valleys where the scallops teem,
protected by just law and salty, daring enforcers.
And in the crashing moment when hell sets loose
upon the waters, dashes against crags life’s work,
by your presence life is extended or ended, alone
from men you find strength to move Atropos’ blade.
Editors of destiny, messengers of mercy, who
bring the light and guide the ships of nations!
Indulge in but bit of my poor praise, before you
board your craft and again defend the fatherland.