>4th of July message from Rear Adm. Christopher Colvin, commander 17th District

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As you stand the watch on the 234th anniversary of the birth of our nation please take the time to reflect on the remarkable contributions of our early military predecessors.

July 4th 1776 was a time of great hope and optimism. But by late December of 1776 the Continental Army had been battered and beaten and was close to disintegration. Following a serious of devastating losses many troops had already abandoned the revolutionary cause.

Gen. George Washington was reduced to pleading for his troops to stay long enough for one more battle. This darkest period of our young nation’s history inspired Thomas Paine to write, “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will in this crisis, shrink from service of their country, but he that stands now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

Down to his last, late-December roll of the dice, Gen. Washington bet the existence of the world’s first free nation on one battle. The pass phrase that night was “victory or death.” Speaking to his troops, Gen. Washington said,” The eyes of all our countrymen are now upon us, and we shall have their blessings, and praises. If happily we are the instruments of saving them from the tyranny meditated against them. Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and show the whole world that a free man contending for liberty on his own ground is superior to any slavish, mercenary on earth.”

You all know what happened next. Gen. Washington and his 2,400 ragtag, shoeless regular Continental Army troops, leaving bloody footprints in the snow, crossed the Delaware in a fierce winter storm and defeated Europe’s most disciplined, fearsome warriors, the Hessians, at Trenton, N.J. This unlikely victory rejuvenated the colonial cause and laid the foundation for the 234 years of freedom that we enjoy today.

In preparation for July 4th 1826 John Adams, in his last public words, toasted the 50th birthday of our nation simply saying, “Freedom forever.”

As we stand the watch this July 4th let us remember the sacrifices of those that came before us and take pride that as the nation’s longest continuous maritime service and maritime guardians of the nation, we continue to make John Adams final toast possible. Like your heroic predecessors, you also deserve the thanks of America’s citizens

For those on duty stand a taut watch and be proud of the trust placed on you to guard America. For those off duty enjoy the holiday respite with family and friends and exercise sound judgment so that you can return to duty safe and sound. The incredibly beautiful, rugged Alaskan wilderness severely penalized foolish mistakes. Be careful. For all, maintain focus and be proud that you, along with the entire nation’s servicemen and women, provide the permissive environment that makes John Adams final public words relevant today. Freedom forever.

Semper Paratus and happy 4th of July.

Rear Adm. Christopher Colvin, commander 17th District

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