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Remarks at the Combined Federal Campaign Awards Ceremony
Remarks as Delivered by Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen , The Pentagon , Wednesday, January 20, 1999

Service Secretaries, [Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff ] General [Joseph] Ralston, [Director of Administration and Management] Doc Cooke, distinguished guests from the Combined Federal Campaign and the United Way, ladies and gentlemen.

At this moment, U.S. soldiers are serving in the twisted jungles and mud plains of Central America, lending a hand of help and hope to the people still recovering from Hurricane Mitch. Their noble service calls to mind the words of Walt Whitman who once wrote, "When sure of their object, there is no end to American generosity and benevolence."

Like our forces in Central America, those of you who lent your hands and hearts to this year’s Combined Federal Campaign have proven the enduring wisdom of Whitman’s words. For year after year, there is no end to your generosity and benevolence.

When I spoke at the CFC kick-off last September, I challenged the Department to aspire to ambitious goals, in short, to show me the money. We had great expectations indeed, setting our sights at 9.5 million dollars. We surpassed even that high bar, raising over 10 million dollars. We gave more than ever before, not only as a Department, but as individuals. Indeed, I am proud to announce that the average gift this year grew by seven percent.

Like so much of what this Department does, these gifts are drops of hope that ripple out across our communities, our nation and our world. They are the gifts of charity, of education, of nutrition and sometimes even the gift of life. They will help those we know and those we will never meet. They are gifts that will make our world a better place, and they cast great credit on those who gave and great benefit on those who received.

So today we thank all of you who made these gifts possible. I think the spirit of your service was captured well by one of the local leaders whose village is benefiting from the good work and good will of our forces in Central America. "The whole world is one community," he said, "and I’m glad our American neighbors are here to help." To which I would add, thank you for your service. Thank you for helping your American neighbors.

It is now my pleasure to present a symbol of DoD’s 10 million dollar CFC contribution to the CFC Vice-Chair for the Nation Capitol Region, Assistant Secretary of Transportation Melissa Allen.