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Remarks at the Swearing-In of Navy Secretary Richard Danzig
Remarks as Prepared for Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, , Monday, November 16, 1998

Richard and Andy Danzig, and all the members of the Danzig family; my wife Janet; Members of Congress and the diplomatic corps; Justice Byron White and Mrs. White, we are honored by your presence today; Secretary and Margaret Dalton; General [Joseph] Ralston, General [Dennis] Reimer; Admiral [Jay] Johnson and General [Charles] Krulak; members of the Armed Forces; ladies and gentlemen.

Times like these past weeks, I think, are powerful reminders, that when it comes to preserving peace and confronting aggression, America is the indispensable nation. And that when the world turns to America, America turns to our indispensable men and women in uniform. Indeed, on ships in the Persian Gulf and in the sands of the Middle East, our brave forces are proving the truth of what President Truman said over 50 years ago. "We cannot reach out to help stop and defeat aggression without crossing the sea. The key to our freedom and to our ability to enforce the peace of the world is still control of the seas and the skies above them."

Today, our sailors and Marines are still the key to our freedom, and so too are their leaders. Leaders such as Richard Danzig, who we swear in today as the 71st Secretary of the Navy, and Secretary John Dalton to whom we bid farewell.

John, you brought to the Navy a tremendous set of insights, experiences and skills. You never forgot what it meant to be Cadet Dalton at Annapolis, looking with enthusiasm to a life on the sea. Nor did you forget what it meant to be Lieutenant Commander Dalton, overseeing America’s greatest treasure, the lives of our men and women in uniform. As Secretary Dalton, you fought hard for a Navy and Marine Corps that is respected at home and abroad, reinvigorating the Honor, Courage and Commitment at the core of their culture. So John, please accept our deep appreciation. For who you are and for all you have done for the Navy and Marine Corps, and for this nation. Thank you.

We also take this moment to thank Margaret Dalton, the "First Lady of the Navy." Margaret, yours has been the voice of our sailors and Marines and their families.

No port or ship has been too far when seeking out their concerns and speaking out for their welfare, health and housing. So Margaret, we thank you for your extra service to America as well.

Now the helm is handed to Richard Danzig. In his youth so many years ago, he served as a clerk for Justice White, one of our most distinguished jurists, who also was a professional athlete on the football field, and, as his Bronze Stars attest, a hero in the field of battle in World War II. In the Defense Department of the Carter Administration, Richard became one of the youngest Principal Deputy Assistants in history. As Undersecretary of the Navy in this Administration, Richard tackled some of the most difficult issues facing the Department.

We now see the signs of Richard's efforts in ensuring fair and equal treatment of all those who serve our nation in our Navy. In the seamless integration of the Navy "blue" and the Marine Corps "green." And in the vitally important programs to combat biological warfare, including the anthrax vaccines that will help protect all of our men and women in uniform. And I would draw your attention to his brilliant and insightful article in yesterday's New York Times.

Just last week, Richard, Admiral Johnson and I were down in Norfolk visiting the USS Bataan, the USS Briscoe and two F-14 squadrons. As we spoke with those sailors and airmen, shook their hands and looked into their eyes, I knew America’s future is in the hands of our best and brightest of our country. They are the best America has to offer and so are their leaders, leaders such as Admiral Johnson and General Krulak, who have consistently impressed everyone with their steadfast commitment to the quality of the force and their compassion for the quality of their lives.

Richard Danzig now returns to lead the Navy, and I can think of no more qualified or capable an individual for the task. Walter Lippmann said that leaders are the custodians of the nation's ideals, of the beliefs it cherishes, of its permanent hopes and of the faith which makes a nation out of a mere aggregation of individuals.

Richard, you shine in the reflection of Lippmann's words. You and Andy care deeply for our sailors and Marines, active and reserve, and their families. I will rely on your advice and your insight, and I will look to you to lead the Navy and Marine Corps into the 21st Century with boldness and vision.

Your challenge, and our challenge as a nation at this moment, was captured by the father of another Supreme Court Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., who wrote, "I find the great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving. To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it. But we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor."

Today, we know that our Navy will neither drift nor lie at anchor. So we set course. We move forward, sailing with the wind when we can, sailing against it when we must. And we do so with pride and confidence in the proven strength of our men and women in uniform and proven leaders such as Richard Danzig.

It is now my privilege to introduce Justice Byron White and Richard Danzig for the administering of the oath.