ISS2 2016

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

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Author Discovers Long Standing Connection to CG Heroine Ida Lewis Story by Lauren Armstrong, Communications Director, FRA Today Magazine The following article, originally titled "Surprising Connections" is reprinted from the August, 2015 issue of the FRA Today magazine. On January 28, 1915, our nation's Revenue Cutter Service combined with the U.S. Lifesaving Service to become the United States Coast Guard. Over the past 100 years, the service has protected our shorelines and the men and women who navigate them. This month's feature story highlights our nation's most picturesque aids to navigation -- the lighthouse – and those who devoted their lives to ensuring the lights were always lit. In researching this month's feature, I stumbled across the story of Idawalley Lewis, the daughter of Hosea Lewis, the keeper of Lime Rock Light in Newport, Rhode Island. In the early years, women were prohibited from direct assignment as lighthouse keepers, but like many others, Ida and her mother accepted the responsibilities after Hosea suffered a stroke. Growing up on the tiny island in Newport Harbor, Ida became an accomplished swimmer and, by the age of 15, was well known for her rowing skills, strength and courage. During her lifetime on Lime Rock, she tended the light religiously and is also credited with saving at least 18 lives. (Unofficial reports suggest she may have rescued as many as 36 mariners.) Ida Lewis was called the "Bravest Woman in America" and, after reading her story, I can understand why. What I didn't realize is that Ida has been living in my home since I was a young girl. My great-grandmother was an amateur artist and, like many of her contemporaries in the late 1800s, she painted images copied from other artists. Her small painting of this brave young girl, rowing against raging seas, is one of the first things I see every morning and is a constant reminder that, no matter what challenges I face during the coming day, I've got to "row hard and strong" to overcome them. Imagine my surprise to discover the illustration of Ida Lewis that no doubt inspired Great-Grandma Lizzie when she herself was only 18 years old. Writing the feature articles for FRA Today is always an education for me. I always learn something new and interesting, and it's always my goal to share that new-found knowledge with our readers. This month, I learned how very connected we are to our ancestors … and to one another … even if it isn't obvious at first blush. Our past is absolutely relevant to our present and our future. Issue 2 • 2016 � RESERVIST 49

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