The U.S. Coast Guard broke ground for its new museum in the City of New London. It will be the first museum honoring the Coast Guard in the nation.
The Coast Guard band, which is based at the service's academy in New London, played for the presentation of the colors on the city's waterfront as the ceremony got underway on Friday.
Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio told the crowd that this was an honor for the city, which is already so closely associated with the Coast Guard. "This museum will not only be a home for all the veterans of our Coast Guard," he said. "It will not only be an economic driver for our city and our region, but it will truly be a national treasure for all Americans." With that, Finizio signed over the land on which the museum will be built to the commandant of the Coast Guard.
Admiral Robert Papp is a Connecticut native. Breaking ground for the museum in his home state has been a personal mission. "I have the deed. Can you believe it?" he told the crowd. "I think I'll sleep with this tonight!" He said belief is still needed, because despite the land transfer, the association behind the museum must still raise the millions of dollars needed for construction of the planned four-story building.
Congressman Joe Courtney paid tribute to Admiral Papp's persistence. "With the sequester," he said, "the budget control act, the need to recapitalize the Coast Guard fleet, the government shutdown that took place back in October -- again, he never lost sight on the horizon of where he was going with this project, because he believes so passionately."
Courtney is moving forward with legislation to issue a Coast Guard commemorative coin as one way of raising funds for the project. For now, its supporters must be content with only a ceremonial groundbreaking.