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When people hear Annapolis they immediately think of the U.S. Naval Academy. Likewise West Point is synonymous with the U.S. Military Academy. New London should aspire to achieve that same association with its U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
New London Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio set this as an aspiratory goal on April 5 when local, state and Coast Guard officials announced that the city's waterfront district had been chosen as the location for a National Coast Guard Museum.
It was exciting then to hear the mayor's goal receive the enthusiastic endorsement of the commandant, Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr., during Wednesday's commencement at the academy.
"So I say this morning, 'Welcome to New London, New London the home of the United States Coast Guard Academy and the future home of the National Coast Guard museum,''' thundered Adm. Papp to appreciative applause.
New London needs to welcome, to promote, to crow about the fact it hosts the institution responsible for developing Coast Guard officers. Given the Coast Guard's mission, that connection should be a source of great pride. And while we are sure it is, that pride has not translated to a national connection between the city and the academy, an association that could only benefit New London.
As Vice President Joe Biden noted in his commencement address to the 227 graduates, "The American people are in awe of what you do."
What city would not want to be associated with an institution held in such high regard by the nation?
Addressing his fellow graduates, Distinguished Graduate Joseph Sullivan-Springhetti noted that something does separate them from the seniors who are graduating from universities across the nation, all with great potential.
"What makes us different is that you and I have promised our potential, we have pledged it, not to ourselves, not to a corporation or to a bottom line, but to our country and humanity," Ensign Sullivan-Springhetti said.
How wonderful if, even in a small way, the service of these new officers was connected with New London, as Annapolis is linked to Naval officers and West Point to Army leaders.
That correlation will grow, we suspect, with the opening of the Coast Guard museum in a few years. This is a time, Vice President Biden noted, when the nation's appreciation for the mission of the Coast Guard is growing.
These new officers, he said, will find themselves at the focal point of some of the most important challenges presented by "a world that is rapidly changing; changing utterly."
The Coast Guard stands between "stateless actors" and their desire to "smuggle weapons of terror into American ports," said Vice President Biden. A world in which "the new fault lines between nations are the sea lanes, the straits, you know so well."
"You graduate into a world where the consequences of global warming offer the possibility of ice-free passages across Arctic regions that didn't exist when you were born, presenting entirely new challenges that will demand greater international cooperation," the vice president said.
The Day congratulates the members of the Class of 2013 as they begin, in Ensign Sullivan-Springhetti's words, "the greatest adventure of (their) lives."
We look forward to seeing many of them back in New London when the museum opens.