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Sen. Murphy explains support for Coast Guard Museum in New London

Ninety years ago, then-Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon came to New London to lay the cornerstone for the future home of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. And in the decades since, thousands of bright and brave Americans have come to Connecticut to study and train to rescue those in distress, protect the environment, promote maritime trade and commerce, and defend our maritime borders.

Yet, we still don't have a place to honor the service and sacrifice of Coast Guard veterans and inspire the next generation. It's time to finally begin construction on the National Coast Guard Museum in New London.

Today, I want to share some exciting news about my efforts in Washington to get this critical project done. Just this week, as Chairman of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, I authored a major boost in federal funding to jump start the museum's construction and upgrade New London's City Pier. I'm going to work closely with Congressman Courtney, Congresswoman DeLauro, and Senator Blumenthal over the next few months to make sure we get this signed into law.

Let me take a moment to explain why this work is so important to me and our state.

First things first, it makes no sense that the Coast Guard is the only historic branch of the armed services with no national museum. The other armed services have over 77 museums between them. Both the Coast Guard Academy and the broader service have illustrious histories worth celebrating. In 1919, Commander Elmer Fowler Stone, an Academy graduate, piloted the first-ever successful trans-Atlantic flight. And more recently, Lt. Ronaqua Russell became the first African-American female Coast Guard aviator to receive the Air Medal in recognition of the lives she saved during Hurricane Harvey.

These are just two examples of the brave, selfless officers New London has produced — and the feats that the National Coast Guard Museum will celebrate. We owe it to Coast Guard service members and veterans, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation, to build this museum.

Second, this project will be a huge opportunity for kids in Connecticut — and across the country — who will come to visit. The building will be filled with interactive educational exhibits on topics including fisheries, weather patterns, and how we can better protect the environment. Over 15,000 children will take part in the STEM Discovery Center each year — and Connecticut schools will benefit from field trips and additional partnerships.

Last but definitely not least, this will be a massive economic driver for southeastern Connecticut, especially downtown New London. The museum will create hundreds of jobs and pump upwards of $20 million a year into the region's economy. And it will bring hundreds of thousands of additional visitors to New London each year, which will help restaurants, shops, and other local businesses grow.

With the funding I'm working to include in next year's budget, we'll be closer than ever to making this museum a reality. And when we do, we'll have a dedicated place to honor the noble motto that Coast Guard service members have lived, fought, and died by: Semper Paratus, Always Ready.

Sen. Chris Murphy represents Connecticut in the U.S. Senate.

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