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Combined Federal Campaign Kick-Off
Remarks as Delivered by Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, The Pentagon, Washington, DC, Wednesday, October 04, 2000

Mr. Chairman [General High Shelton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff], it's nice to see you here. Admiral [Thomas] Wilson [Director, Defense Intelligence Agency], Secretary [of the Navy, Richard] Danzig, and distinguished guests.

Yesterday we paid tribute to eight of the Department’s outstanding public servants. And during the course of that ceremony Doc [Cooke; Director, Washington Headquarters Services] reminded me of today, saying, "Don't forget about tomorrow and the Combined Federal Campaign. You're speaking there, too." [Laughter.]

I think it was T.S. Eliot who measured out his life in coffee spoons. And it seems to me that I've been measuring mine out by how many meetings we've been having like this. They come around awfully quickly. I don't know why it is. Maybe as I'm getting older, the time is speeding up. But it seems to me we just did this a couple of months ago. [Laughter.] So here we are again.

I must tell you that I take so much pride in going out and seeing all the people that we serve in the field. The Chairman has been following -- I guess he's been preceding me -- around the world. We both recently returned from an extended visit to Asia, and I can tell you that when we look out and see the kind of people that are serving us, it's always inspirational.

There’s people like Secretary Danzig and those fine sailors and Marines aboard the aircraft carriers doing their jobs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It's an inspiration to come back from an experience like that. There’s Udairi Range in Kuwait where you can see the Marines exercising with live fire in 110 and 120-degree heat. You can see our wonderful Air Force and our Army in their operations. So that is truly inspirational for me.

It's also inspirational to come before you because you are helping to support the finest military in the world. The extra work that you do and the contributions that you make are truly exceptional.

Now I'm going to paraphrase Francis Bacon when I say that money is like what the Chinese would call night soil. It's no good unless you spread it around. [Laughter.] Doc pointed out that last year you surpassed our goal of $9.5 million. We ended spreading around some $11 million. This year the goal is $10.5 million, and we expect you to surpass that as well. We expect you to pass that goal not because of any powers of persuasion on my part, but because every time we set a goal, this team always exceeds it.

So I would like to close with a quote from Robert Frost, a fellow New Englander, who said that, "Something we were withholding was making us weak, until we found it was ourselves that we were withholding from the land of the living."

You have done anything but withhold. In fact, you have withheld nothing. You have given of yourselves, you have energized this department and you have made [this Department] the crown jewel in this [Federal] effort to raise the kind of funds to go out in the community that, as Doc said, will always come back to each and every one of us.

So I'm here to say thank you and to urge you on to exceed the high goal that we have set once again. And Doc, thanks for your extended leadership over the years, and thanks for reminding me about my obligation here today. [Laughter and applause.]