Thank you, Doc [Cooke, Director, Washington Headquarters Services]. As we were on our way here, I learned that Doc is chairman of CFC's local federal coordinating committee, and has been for many years.
I'd like to say how touched I am that Doc wanted me here today. He even called me himself and said: "Mr. Secretary, make sure you don't miss the CFC awards on Tuesday." Doc then promised the same personal attention for all future Pentagon events. [Laughter.] I think it must be just that sort of friendly, full contact that led to government being called a "team sport."
I am proud and excited indeed to be back on this team for my third tour. As Secretary Rumsfeld has said, we're going to keep trying 'til we get it right. [Laughter.] But, I recall from my previous tours here, there's one effort that always gets it right--and that's the Combined Federal Campaign.
Today, the United States, our allies and friends enjoy a level of peace and security that we haven't known for a long time. That is true, in very great measure, because America's men and women in uniform have long stood bravely for peace and freedom--as they do at this very moment throughout the world. A generous spirit and a genuine desire to give something back to this nation are at the heart of what motivates our military men and women and our dedicated civil servants. It's a spirit of service that they readily extend to their communities and to charitable organizations like Combined Federal Campaign.
Each year their generosity ensures that the charities of CFC can be generous, too--providing gifts of education, nutrition, and other life-giving support to those in need throughout the world, whatever the crisis, wherever it happens.
So it's no surprise that the Department set a new record of giving last year. Of course, I wasn't here then. So my role today is reminiscent of the understandably nameless individual who coached All-American quarterback, George Mira, a right-hander who played for the University of Miami.
During one game a few years ago, he went back for a pass and just as he spotted an open receiver, he found his passing arm entangled with an eager opponent. Thinking fast, Mira transferred the ball into his left hand. Then, he threw . . . for his only left-handed touchdown. After Mira's amazing feat, his coach exclaimed: "Now that's what I call great coaching!" [Laughter.]
Even though I'm feeling somewhat like Mira's coach right now, I know there were some great coaches leading last year's Combined Federal Campaign--some are right here beside me. I think they'd be the first to agree that it's the thousands of George Miras out there--the men and women who responded with such generous contributions--who make all the difference in the lives of so many.
And so, it's my great pleasure, on behalf of Secretary Rumsfeld, to commend this great team and thank all those who contributed to this campaign. And, it's my pleasure to present the United Way with a symbol of DoD's $11.7 million dollar contribution. [Applause.]