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Combined Federal Campaign Kick-Off Ceremony
Remarks as Delivered by Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, The Pentagon, Washington, D.C., Friday, September 24, 1999

Doc [Cooke; Director, Washington Headquarters Services], thank you very much. It has been said that, "An institution is the lengthened shadow of a single individual." When we talk about an institution as big and large as the Department of Defense, we can say there is only one individual who is capable of such a lengthened shadow, and that’s our own Doc. Doc, that fact that you are here at this particular time, given what has taken place in your life in the past week, tells us how deep your commitment is to this program. [Applause.] All of our hearts are heavy with your loss.

General Shelton [Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff], you stand tall above all the rest and so we expect you to contribute more. [Laughter.] Secretary [of the Army, Luis] Caldera, Secretary [of the Air Force, Whit] Peters and Under Secretary [of the Navy, Jerry] Hultin. You heard Doc say he expects all of your departments to contribute more this year. [Laughter.] Distinguished leaders from across the Department, honored guests, including Mrs. [Wilhelmina] Rolark [President and CEO, United Black Fund] and Assistant Secretary [of Health and Human Services, John] Callahan, ladies and gentlemen.

Walter Lippmann once said that, "We are not mere individuals isolated in a tempest. We are members of a community and what we do – what we have to do – we shall do together, with friends beside us." Each year, and these years seem to click by more rapidly than I like to count. It seems like just a month ago that we were all standing here doing virtually the same thing. But each year this Campaign reminds us of the wisdom of those words because we are members of several communities.

We are members of a community that is dedicated to public service. Those of us who work in this building, uniformed and civilian alike, we like to think that we serve from the frontlines to the supply lines in preserving peace and freedom and security. That is what we do.

But of course we are part of a much wider American community as such. And so this Combined Federal Campaign allows us to step beyond the Pentagon. In our daily lives, it seems so overwhelming, what we do, that we sometimes perhaps seem remote from the rest of the world. But this Campaign allows us to really say to the community that we serve – the larger community – that we are a symbol of public service to the American community, that we have a vital connection to it.

There is in Greek mythology a character by the name of Antaeus. He was a towering figure, and his strength was said to become more invincible each time he put his foot on the ground. His strength was, in fact, renewed and redoubled. I think in the same way of the Combined Federal Campaign. Each time we help directly the people that we’re serving in the community, it does renew our sense of strength, in ourselves and each other, it reminds us of the noble purpose we have when we serve in this Department, and redoubles the strength of our commitment to the communities.

As Doc mentioned, last year we outdid ourselves. We had 60,000 DoD employees who opened their hearts and their wallets to this Campaign, achieving the highest record that we’ve ever had. This year, although actually our goal is under the ten million-dollar mark , as Doc has indicated already, we’ve lowered our sights, but we expect to exceed those sights by the same, comparable percentage we did last year.

So, we’re raising over ten million dollars to help hundreds of worthy causes, from helping children in our cities to helping to harness medical research for curing disease. And I suspect that we have the same kind of commitment this year and we will surpass our goal. We will provide direction and leadership to our co-workers and colleagues and hopefully serve as an example to all of the others in the firmament of the U.S. Government. We will serve as a model for them to follow.

Doc, it is a pleasure for me to be here to thank all of you who are here, who work on this Campaign. I pledge to you that we will do even better than we did last year. [Applause.]