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Center for Security Policy's 2006 Keeper of the Flame Award Dinner
As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, East Hall, Union Station, Washington, D.C., Wednesday, September 20, 2006

    Thank you.  Thank you so very much for that very warm welcome. 

    And, Frank Gaffney, thank you for your amazing energy and the significant contributions that you and the Center continue to make on the most important national security issues of our time.

    You and your team seem to always be there.  When the public debate and discussion seems to be getting off track, almost always you and your colleagues stand up and help our country recenter its gyroscope and get its balance back.  And so we thank you, and you're appreciated.  (Cheers, applause.)

    These lights are so bright, I can't see who's out there, but someone told me that Jon Kyl and James Inhofe are here.  Is that about right?  (Applause.)

    You know, you look around for determined, principled leaders in the United States Senate, two of the first names that come racing up at you are Jon Kyl and Jim Inhofe.  So, Senators, it's good to see you.  Thank you for your dedicated leadership.  (Applause.)

    And a warm greeting to General Pete Pace, who I think I see down there.  (Applause.)  He's the first Marine to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  He's a military talent that the American people are coming to respect for his courage and his candor, his devotion to the country and his respect and concern for the men and women in uniform all across the world.  Pete, it's a privilege to serve with you.  (Applause.)

    And I've had a chance to meet, I think, three of the four or five honorees who are going to be honored later this evening.  I see one sitting here.  And -- there's a couple -- there's another one, right -- you have a chance to visit.  I congratulate all of you.  It's a wonderful thing that you serve our country, and it's a wonderful thing that you could be here this evening.  And you'll feel the respect that the people in this audience feel for you and your colleagues.  (Applause.)

    And I'm delighted that there's such strong representation from the Department of Defense here tonight.  Besides Pete Pace, I saw General Jim Jones, and I'm told Norty Schwartz is here and Admiral Keating; General Dick Cody.

    We've got some folks from the civilian side -- Paul McHale and John Young I saw down there; Jim Haynes, I'm told, is here; Ryan Henry.  I see my old friend, Doug Feith here and no longer with the Department, but God bless him.  (Applause.)

    I see that star of stage, screen and radio, J.D. Crouch, over there.  (Laughter.)  And Bill Luti --  is here from the White House.  Bob Zoellick -- is here.  (Cheers, applause.)  All these folks who are doing such a wonderful job serving our country.

    And where's Duncan Hunter?  Well, you clean up good.  (Laughter.)  Son of a gun.  That's impressive.  (Laughter.)  I hardly recognize you.  (Laughter.)

    I'm told Cap Weinberger, Jr. is here.  I had a chance to say hello -- (inaudible).  But I hope everyone knows you're here and will have a chance to shake your hand.  (Applause.)

    Well, it's a special privilege for me to be able to join you in honoring our friend, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Duncan Hunter, and to be joined by so many members of the House who worked with Duncan regularly.  I'm told Chairman Jerry Lewis is here or going to be here; Joel Hefley; Steve Pearce and Mike Rogers; and Jim Saxton and some others.

    I've come to know Chairman Hunter very well over the years, and I can tell you that those of us in the Department rely very heavily on his wisdom, his leadership, his experience and his "get it done" attitude.  It is something when he comes into your office like a whirling dervish and starts discussing a subject first at the national level and then down at the microlevel, and then leaves you pieces of metal on your desk that you can hardly lift and has explained exactly where it goes, what it's for, why it should be there and wants to know why it isn't.  And God bless him for it.  (Applause.)

    You know, these past years are the years when it's been particularly important to have knowledgeable and experienced and capable leadership in the Armed Services Committee, in the Congress.  Duncan has been determined to see that the Department of Defense and the men and women in uniform have the resources they need, to see that they're well-equipped and well-supported.  He's never let the troops down, and as a result of his leadership and his hard work, our nation is a safer place today.

    Duncan understands that ever since September 11th, it's been essential that we put aside that September 10th attitude and recognize that we have to get up every morning recognizing that it's September 12th and that we have to ask ourselves what it is that we can do to protect the American people and to see that we inject a sense of urgency into our government and our country.  (Applause.)  We have seen that we needed to go on the offense to fight the enemy's territory rather than to wait for them to attack us on our own territory.

    In World War II, after the operation at Dunkirk, Winston Churchill addressed the House of Commons and dispelled the euphoria that many there seemed to feel about the very successful evacuation of the British forces from the European mainland.  And Churchill said in the Parliament very simply, "Wars are not won by evacuations."  And we need to remember that today.  (Cheers, applause.)

    They're not won by retreat or wishful thinking.  They're won by determination, they're won by understanding the nature of the enemies we face, and the consequences, I would say the dire consequences of failing to understand them or failing to defeat them.

    Last week, I had the pleasure to be with former Prime Minister Lady Thatcher.  Folks sometimes forget that even before Ronald Reagan was elected president and led the Cold War, Lady Thatcher was already there in power warning against complacency in the struggle ahead.  And Reagan and Mrs. Thatcher were criticized for their policies of "peace through strength" -- which, as I recall, is the motto of this organization.  (Applause.)

    I remember well during the Cold War when hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated and marched -- not against the Soviet Union and its expansionist policies around the world -- but against the United States of America and against the West.  Many prominent Americans contended that America was the problem, not the Soviet Union.

    Well, I, for one, do not wake up every morning thinking that America is what's wrong with the world.  (Cheers, applause.)  And I know that you all recognize how fortunate we are to have young men and young women willing to volunteer, to raise their hands and say, "send me," and go serve all across the globe -- Afghanistan and Iraq, the Horn of Africa, and elsewhere -- and how important it is that we see that we support them in the noble work that they're engaged in.

    In the long, hard slog ahead -- and it will be long and it is hard, let there be no doubt -- it's up to all of us to continue to wage the war of ideas and to convey to others the importance of the fight, the scope of the threat, and the consequences of failure.  As we do that as a country -- and I'm convinced we will -- each of us, each of you involved with this Center, can be proud to have played a part in that victory.  And few have played a larger role than Chairman Duncan Hunter.  (Applause.)

    So, Duncan, my congratulations.  My thank-you for your service to this country, my thank-you to you for your service to the cause of freedom, my thank-you to you for your service to the Department of Defense and to those of us who serve there and serve the American people.  You are a treasure.  You are indeed a "Keeper of the Flame."  God bless you.  (Applause.)