President Harry Truman said, "Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid." And while we cannot repay these fine individuals, we can honor their service, which is what the Coast Guard Foundation did Tuesday, June 12, with its Tribute to the Coast Guard in Our Nation's Capital the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. The keynote speaker for the evening was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin E. Dempsey.
Attendees were treated to a surprise performance by Gen. Dempsey that delighted the crowd. Gen. Dempsey performed the Frank Sinatra song "My Kind of Town" inflected with some Coast Guard-centric accents. Gen. Dempsey praised the Coast Guard and the service's mission. The Chairman noted the depth and breadth of the Coast Guard's average day: patrolling 95,000 miles of coastline, saving 12 lives, and keeping tons of illegal drugs off our streets.
For the past seven years, we have had the privilege of honoring the dedicated service of the men and women of the Coast Guard, and this year will be no exception. Through the generosity of our donors, this event has raised more than $6.1 million since its inception.
These brave men and women and their families sacrifice so much for us each and every day. They rescue us. They are the nation's first responders to disasters, both natural and man-made. They protect our ports and our environment. They keep our country safe from the threat of terrorists, as well as our streets safe from those who seek to bring illegal drugs here. They do all this, and ask for very little in return. Our Tribute to the Coast Guard in Our Nation's Capital is a unique opportunity to recognize their accomplishments and thank them publicly.