What Is Really Important

By Telecommunications Specialist Second Class Julie Marie Duncan, U.S. Coast Guard

Suddenly, my problems seemed trivial by comparison. I always knew where my next meal was coming from. I knew I was protected from danger. I knew I had my family, a secure home, my cat, and all my dreams. There are millions of people in this world who never have been that fortunate. When they fled Haiti, our migrants were ready to give up their lives, in hopes of attaining anything better. They stayed strong and smiling, knowing that whatever the future held had to be better than what they left behind. Now they had no homes, and now some had no families. We were their only hope—the only ones who knew that their true destiny was back to Haiti.

Seventy-five days and more than a 1,000 migrants later, we left Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for home. I took away vivid memories of their suffering faces, their strength, and their appreciation for life. Now, I understand clearly that the true reason I joined the Coast Guard was to save lives. If I had to do this all over again, I would.

If we had not been there for them, who would have been? I learned a vital lesson about what is really important.

Petty Officer Duncan served on board USCGC Hamilton (WHEC-715), and is currently assigned to U.S. Coast Guard Group San Francisco. 


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