Remarks by the Deputy Secretary of Defense
The Honorable Gordon. R. England
Australian Reception/Exhibition "Partners in Arms"
17 April 2007
Thank you, Dennis [Ambassador Richardson] for the warm welcome…
It is an honor to formally open this extraordinary Exhibition – “Partners in Arms: Australia and America in War 1917-2007”.
Thanks to General Gower [MG (ret) Steven Gower], the Director of the Australian War Memorial, for putting the exhibition together and bringing it all the way to Washington… Steve has a long, personal history of serving together with American brothers-in-arms, in Vietnam, and later on an exchange at TRADOC – and that feeling for our close partnership really shows.
This exhibition celebrates 90 years of the close friendship and partnership between our nations and our people. It’s a friendship based on our common commitment to protect and defend freedom and liberty… and on our shared belief that by helping others to be free, we enhance our own freedom.
It’s a friendship fostered by the great leadership of both our nations. When President Bush and Prime Minister Howard met in Washington last year, President Bush said, “In the spread of freedom to create lasing peace, we have no better friend than Australia”.
I personally first met Prime Minister Howard on “9/10”, 2001 – a bright, sunny day, at the Navy Yard here in Washington. The next day, 9/11, 2001, terrorists struck in New York, and Pennsylvania, and here at the Pentagon…and the world as we’d known it changed. Our nations, and our people, did not hesitate – the men and women of Australia and the United States stepped forward to defend our nations and our friends and allies, in an hour of shared need.
Americans and Australians unhesitatingly stepped forward to serve together… just as they have in every generation since WWI – when our forces joined battle together for the first time, at the French town of Le Hamel [lah MEL], in 1918…and most fittingly, on the 4th of July. Our brave men and women in uniform have stood tall together in every major conflict since then… from WWII and the shores of Papua and Guadalcanal….to the battlefields and coastlines of Korea… to the jungles of Vietnam… to the deserts of the first Gulf War….to the front lines in today’s war on terrorism, in Iraq and Afghanistan.
America is truly privileged to have such a strong and firm ally partner and friend in Australia – where people are tough survivors…defined by their grit and determination, and by their fierce resolve…
In fact… I remember the night I met Ambassador Richardson at a baseball game. He’d just flown in to Washington after a minor surgery that left him with two black eyes…. So I asked what the other guy looked like! Dennis – I do thank you for your friendship, and I’m glad we’re on the same team!
The Department, and this Nation, are grateful for friendship and partnership with Australia – sealed by blood and shared sacrifice, and based on common values and a shared commitment to freedom and liberty, to creating opportunity and ensuring peace, and to leaving a better world for our children and grandchildren.