Archive for August, 2010

Semper Paratus

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Unites States Coast GuardFounded 220 years ago today, 4 August 1790, as the “Revenue Cutter Service”, the United States Coast Guard can claim to be the United States’ oldest continuous seagoing service. Yes, yes, of course we carry flags and some great patches of the Coast Guard, but that’s not the point here. And why is it that the Coast Guard is listed last in “Precedence of Members of Armed Forces of the United States When in Formations” as reported in our newsletter Volume 7 Number 1 back in 2008? But again, that’s not the point.

United States Coast Guard flag

Cool, eh?

What I’m trying to get to here is their motto: “Semper Paratus“, Latin for “Always Ready” or “Always Prepared” – but you knew that. It’s pretty cool. Kinda like the “Be Prepared” of the Scouts and Girl Guides. (Great article with translations on Wikipedia, albeit a little gruesome.) It certainly means more than just carrying a cool pocket knife.

Harper's MagazineActually, the cover article of August’s issue of Harper’s Magazine, entitled Happiness is a worn gun: My concealed weapon and me, by Dan Baum (sorry, gotta subscribe or mooch a copy to read it), talks about “conditions of readiness”. To paraphrase:

  • Condition White is total oblivion to one’s surroundings …
  • Condition Yellow is being aware of, and taking an interest in, one’s surroundings …
  • Condition Orange is being aware of a possible threat.
  • Condition Red is responding to danger.

(Personally, I rather like hanging around somewhere between White and Yellow.)

Anyway, chatting with my buddy, Tim, from Hopkins Demonstration Forest at this morning’s Chamber of Commerce meeting, he was recalling in his youth working as a bush fire fighter or some such occupation: even in the slow season, they were required to always be about some task, preparing equipment and such, in preparedness for when it would be needed. The thought was actually echoed by another buddy, Steve, PIO for the Fire District, in his introduction at the same meeting, about always needing to be vigilant, although I don’t remember him using such a big word.

So, maybe there’s the message: keep your head up, don’t freak out, and let’s be thankful for those who protect and serve us.