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Each year on August 4, the U.S. Coast Guard celebrates its birthday. This year marks 231 years since the Coast Guard was established by Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton in 1790. Now dubbed the “father of the Coast Guard,” Alexander Hamilton was asked by Congress to construct 10 vessels that would enforce U.S. tariff laws and combat smuggling along the coastlines. Originally, the Coast Guard was called the “Revenue Marine Service.”

Today, of course, the U.S. Coast Guard proudly serves its crucial role as one of the five indispensable branches of the U.S. military. Much like when the military branch was created, today, the Coast Guard patrols American coasts for drug smugglers, terrorist threats, and human traffickers.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the Coast Guard currently has 42,000 active duty personnel, 8,000 reserve personnel, and roughly 30,000 civilian volunteers. All members of the U.S. Coast Guard, including Coast Guard veterans, have made incredible sacrifices to protect our nation against threats both at home and abroad.

Ways to Celebrate the U.S. Coast Guard’s Birthday

This year, let’s all give the U.S. Coast Guard all the love and appreciation it deserves. To celebrate the 231st birthday of the Coast Guard, consider doing any of the following:

1. Participate in a Coast Guard Event

To get involved with this year’s celebration, consider attending or even hosting an event to mark the occasion. So long as COVID-19-related health precautions allow, celebrate the U.S. Coast Guard with friends, food, music, and games.

2. Learn About the Coast Guard’s History

If social-gathering in your local area is not possible, or if there isn’t an opportunity to organize a get-together, consider simply reading up on the U.S. Coast Guard’s fascinating history. Learning about the military branch’s triumphs and accomplishments can help build your gratitude and appreciation for the role the Coast Guard plays in protecting the United States.

3. Contact a Member of the U.S. Coast Guard

Whenever possible, it’s important to express to our military members — both active duty and veterans — how much we appreciate their service and the sacrifices they have made on our behalf. If you know a Coast Guard veteran, try arranging a meal or a phone call to share with them your appreciation.

4. Construct Coast Guard-Themed LEGO® Set

A Kid- and family-favorite, LEGO sets span a vast number of categories — including sets that feature the Coast Guard and its ships, boats, and helicopters. To celebrate the occasion, gather the family together and enjoy building one of many LEGO Coast Guard sets.

5. Watch a Movie Featuring the U.S. Coast Guard

The U.S. Coast Guard’s official website maintains a list of movies that feature the Coast Guard. Such films include Deep Water Horizon, The Perfect Storm, and Clear and Present Danger, among many others. Watching one of these movies can go a long way toward building a deeper understanding of the vital role that the Coast Guard plays in the American military.