Second Honorable Mention, Coast Guard Essay Contest
From 1915 until the end of World War II, there were two U.S. Coast Guards: the cutter branch and the lifesaving branch. In general, headquarters tended to leave the lifesaving stations to themselves, giving them only minimal support and personnel. Once a year, a major inspection party would visit, and that would be it.
Unless there was a death.
Then the commandant and his staff became very interested and pointed out what the station did wrong, whether the station was wrong or not. Things then settled back into the same routine.
This led to the development of two enduring features within the stations. First, the small group of people at the stations knew they would receive very little help in the way of equipment, men, and money. Second, this same group developed a fierce pride in what they did. They were proud that they always went out, even if they had to hold their equipment together with bailing wire and prayers. They were willing to accept second-class treatment so they could continue to save lives.