Happy 100th Anniversary to the Coast Guard – Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes

Happy 100th Anniversary to the Coast Guard – Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes

Happy 100th Anniversary to the Coast Guard act of 1915! In case you missed my interview about Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes with Michigan Public Radio’s “Stateside with Cynthia Canty” program yesterday and would like to hear it, there is a podcast available on their website through this link. The interview begins at about the 20 minute mark. Listen Here. On this day, January 28th, 1915 – President Woodrow Wilson put pen to paper and signed in to law the Coast Guard act of 1915, thereby combining the Revenue Cutter Service and the United States Coast Guard into a single service, The United States Coast Guard. This marked a victory in a long-fought battle by the Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes, Rev. William H. Law, who since 1900 had been lobbying the government of the  United States to provide better pay and pensions for members of the United States Life-Saving Service. The new act provided pay increases and pensions to those serving in the newly formed Coast Guard. — LIFE  SAVERS’  PENSION  BILL  PASSED;  LAW  HAPPY Duluth News Tribune – January 29 1915 “Sky Pilot of Inland Seas” Worked on Measure for Years W. H. Law,  the  “Sky  pilot  of  the  Inland  Seas,”  is  the  happiest  man  between  Duluth  and  Pawtucket  Light  these  days.  He  has  been working for  years  to  obtain  the  passage  of  the  bill  which  puts  life  savers  on  a  par  with  Navy  men and naval  reservists  and –  this is the big feature of it – pension  them  on  retirement. The bill passed the senate last week, and Mr.  Law, writing from Detroit to W.  H. Cook of  this  city  says:  “I  regard  the  passage  of  the  bill  as  a  birthday  present,  as  the  news  ca me  to  me  on  my  sixty-second  birthday.  I  am  delighted  over  the  victory  for  it  means so much to  the  brave  men  who  have  long  deserved  this  recognition  on  the  part  of  the  government. The  bill  provides  a 10  per cent  increase  in  pay  at  the  end  of  every  five years of service  and  after 20  years  the chance to retire with 75 percent  of  the  salary  and  allowances  as  a  pension,  It  also  places  the  life  saving  service  and  the  revenue  cutter  service  in  a  new  department,   the  Unites States  coast  guards subject  to  orders  from  the  treasury  department. The Bill will affect 2,000  men, 576 in 64  stations  on  the  Great  Lakes,  the  rest  in  224  ocean  stations. For  24  years  W. H. Law  has  been  known  as  the  “sky  pilot”  of  the  Great  Lakes.  His parish extends from the Thousand Islands in the St.  Lawrence River to Duluth.  His  parishioners number  into  the  tens  of  thousands,  Each  year,  be  pays  several  visits  to  every  life-saving  and  light station  on  the  Great  Lakes  bringing  books,  delicacies,  mail  and  good  cheer  to  the  men. Each year he addresses a personal letter to every man in every life-saving and Light station in American waters.  His lecture text is laughter and   optimism: His gospel optimism, laughter and happiness:  his sermon.  happiness,  optimism, good  cheer  and  laughter,  He  preaches the   doctrine  of  “fellowship  of  humanity.” — Happy 100th Anniversary to the Coast Guard act of 1915!  ...

Interview with Stateside with Cynthia Canty – January 27th, 2015

Tune in to Stateside with Cynthia Canty tomorrow January 27th, 2015 to hear an interview I did with Cynthia about the Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes and the 100th anniversary of the United States Coast Guard. The show will air at 3:00 P.M. & 10 P.M.on Michigan Public Radio and Interlochen Public Radio stations across the state. A podcast of the interview should be available after the airing on Stateside’s...

A Birthday Present for the Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes

A Birthday Present for the Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes

One hundred years ago on this day, January 20, 1915, the U.S. House of Representatives, on the recommendation of then President Woodrow Wilson passed the Coast Guard Act of 1915. The bill (S. 2337; a bill “To create the Coast Guard by combining therein the existing Life-Saving Service and Revenue Cutter Service.” ) had been introduced to the U.S. Senate on May 16, 1913 by Senator Charles E. Townsend of Michigan, was referred to committee and ultimately passed by the Senate on March 12, 1914. The bill, if signed in to law, would form the United States Coast Guard by merging the existing Revenue Cutter Service and the United States Life-Saving Service. More importantly to the “Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes” Rev. William H. Law, it would provide an updated pay structure and provide pensions to the men in their service. The battle for a law favorable to the welfare the life-savers and their families had been waged by many as early as the late-1800’s. William H. Law, as part of his mission, took it upon himself to inform the public and their representatives in government of this need as early as 1900, after his own life was rescued by men of the USLSS. In his 1902 publication, “Life Savers in the Great Lakes”, W. H. Law includes the following intent: These pages are written and sent out as an expression of appreciation for the services of the Life Savers in taking the author, his son, and a friend from a stranded yacht, with a hope that the people’s representatives in the United States Congress may be favorably disposed toward a bill pertaining to the Life Savers now in the hands of a committee. Though these earlier attempts at the passage of a bill to enact a pension for the men in the USLSS had failed, W. H. Law persisted in his efforts to garner support for a pension bill to be enacted. Working with Senator Charles E. Townsend, they would draft a bill that the Senator could bring to the floor and have a chance of being passed. One of the main sticking points of such a bill was the fact that the USLSS was in essence a civil service and that by granting pensions to the members they would be opening the door for the pensioning of all civil service employees. In order to get around this, the bill would be worded instead as a reorganization plan, combining the USLSS and the Revenue Cutter service into a new organization called the Coast Guard with provisions to place them under the authority of the military, thus removing them from civil service. “If they pensioned the lifesaver they left the field open to the vast array of civil service employees. They [the government] couldn’t do that, so we decided to ask for a reorganization putting the lifesaver on par with the naval reservist and the navy men, where he belonged,” W. H. Law stated to the Detroit Free Press in 1915. While Senator Townsend was preparing to bring the bill to the floor in 1913, the Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes started a lobbying campaign of his own, sending various letters and stories of the brave men of Life-Saving Service directly to the homes of the very Senators and Congressmen who would have a chance to vote for the passage of this bill. The letter was well received and many congressmen and senators wrote back assuring they would do everything they could for the passage of the bill. One senator from a landlocked state sent this reply to Rev. Law: We senators and congressmen from states in the interior have little or no personal knowledge of the Life Savers, and I want to thank you for the information you have given me. I have read with a great deal of interest what you mailed me for it came to my home. Your interesting stories concerning the Life Savers were read by my family and talked over at the dinner table. It was thoughtful of you to send your literature to congressmen and senators while at home, for when in Washington they are very busy. May I trouble you to state, what, in your judgment, would be the best course of procedure to improve Service. From what I have read, I have faith in you and I am sure from your experience in having personally visited all the stations on the Great Lakes, and by keeping in touch with those on the various oceans by mail, you are in a position to give me the material I need in drafting a bill. Rest Assured...