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Reenlistment and Promotion Ceremony
Remarks as Delivered by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, California, Friday, July 23, 2004

To the three officers who have been promoted – Lt. Commander [Charles] Sweeney, Lt. [Grant] Miller, and Lt. [Josh] Grace – the Navy has recognized your talent and future potential.  We’re grateful to have your talent, your leadership, and dedication. 

 

For those re-enlisting: thank you for deciding to stay in the service of our nation.  You’ve done some great work bringing this ship to life.  We are grateful that you’ve decided to give the Navy the benefit of your experience and professionalism once again.  [inaudible]  Even compared with some of our closest allies, America’s non-commissioned officer corps is unmatched anywhere in the world.  You are truly the backbone of everything we do. 

 

President Reagan was extraordinarily proud of America’s Armed Forces.  And he often used to ask, “Where do we find such people?”  And he would answer his own question:  “We find them where we got you, where we always find them in our hours of need — on main streets and farms of America.  They are the product of the freest, fairest, the most generous and humane society that has ever been created.”

 

Ronald Reagan was a great believer in freedom.  And through his vision, he helped initiate unprecedented change in this part of the world, the Pacific, that continues to this day.  [inaudible]

 

President Reagan liked to tell a story about what makes our military so special.  In his very first speech as President, in his Inaugural Address, he mentioned a young man named Martin Treptow, who left his small town in 1917 to go to France and fight during the First World War.  Martin Treptow was killed on the Western Front as he was carrying a message between battalions under heavy artillery fire. 

 

The President mentioned a diary that was found on the soldier’s body.  In the front of the book, he’d written these words:  “America must win this war.  Therefore I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the whole struggle depended on me alone.”

 

I’ve spoken to your Captain.  I’ve heard all about what you’ve done on this ship.  And I know there is similar dedication, similar willingness to endure, to sacrifice, and to fight aboard this ship.  I know those feelings and sacrifices are shared by families and loved ones.  You’ve proven it, in bringing this carrier to life.

 

We need you out there.  Today, we face the most recent version of totalitarianism.  It’s not religion.  It’s an evil.  In fighting that evil, America’s forces have freed some 50 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq.  They are helping two formerly totalitarian states become our newest allies, allies in the free world and champions of freedom in the Muslim world.

 

It’s no exaggeration to say that those of you serving today are changing history in a way that will make America and the world safer for us and for our children and for our grandchildren.  So I want to personally thank you.

 

Last month in Washington, we paid tribute once again to what we call the “Greatest Generation,” that fought World War II.  We dedicated the World War II Memorial.  We thanked them for their courage.  We also thanked them for their contribution to making our world safer by helping to change Japan and Germany from totalitarian dictatorships to strong, free allies. 

 

You and your fellow men and women in the U.S. military, in my opinion, are every bit as great as that “Greatest Generation.” 

 

Future generations will thank you for what you are doing today, not only to fight the evil of terrorism, but by helping to liberate 50 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq to help this country to gain new and important allies in the Muslim world.

 

So let me thank you for all you have done and all that you will do for peace and freedom and and the safety of this country, in the name of a great man and President, whose name is on this ship, Ronald Reagan.

 

Thank you.  God bless America.  And God bless all of you.  Thank you.