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Groundbreaking Ceremony, Bassett Army Community Hospital
Remarks as Delivered by Deputy Secretary of Defense Rudy de Leon, Fort Wainwright, Fairbanks, Alaska, Saturday, April 15, 2000

Thank you very much. What a spectacular moment it is to stand here and to look at the vistas in each direction, to look at our young military men and women who are assembled here and then to see the community leadership.

Today, we pause in the middle of this field, which in five years will be a new medical facility. The military aide to the General [Dean Cash; Commander, U.S. Army Alaska] will soon have a baby delivered at the existing hospital. It makes me think of all of the history that's going to be made at the new hospital, all of the new life that will come into this world, and all of the very capable young men and women who are serving in our armed forces as doctors and nurses and medical technicians. Today, our armed forces, using the Medical Armed Forces Health Scholarships that Congress gave us a decade ago, are recruiting some of the best doctors that our country can provide.

I ask you also to think of our veterans and of our military retirees who have served the country and our armed forces so well. Think of them as they will walk through the door of this new military treatment facility. At the heart of our military health care system are health care facilities like the new Bassett Hospital.

This new facility will be a demonstration of our commitment to take care of our men and women, to take care of their families, and particularly, to take care of our retirees and our veterans who also remain a part of our military community.

As we break ground today, we open the door for many new possibilities -- for families, for our soldiers and sailors and airmen and Marines, for our retirees and for the community, for all who will come to use this facility, and all of our medical practitioners who will use their skills at this facility.

Senator [Ted] Stevens, I want to thank you for the invitation to come here today and for the commitment you have expressed in supporting this facility. General [Cash], thank you for the opportunity to be here today.

Before we break ground, I have the great opportunity to introduce one more person to speak here today. Tom Brokaw wrote a book called The Greatest Generation. It talks about those men and women who served our country during World War II. Time Magazine wrote of that generation that they did more than any other generation, with the possible exception of our country’s founding fathers -- Washington, Jefferson, Franklin. They provided all subsequent generations with unsurpassed opportunities by going to war in World War II and then moving into professions that saw the full realization of the American dream in the 20th Century with the best highway systems and universities.


That spirit is embodied in the life and career of Senator Stevens. He comes today as Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, as a Senator from Alaska, but also as a tremendous advocate for our men and women in the armed forces, for our retirees, for their families and for all Americans.