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National POW/MIA Recognition Day Ceremony
As Delivered by Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon R. England, Pentagon Parade Field, Washington, D.C., Friday, September 19, 2008


General Cartwright—I thank you for that introduction, and I thank you for your inspiring words.  Our Nation is extraordinarily fortunate to have General Cartwright serving as Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.  God bless you, “Hoss.”  And, thank you so much for your service. 

And, a special thanks to all those here today who have selflessly served our nation …. members of our Armed Forces, veterans—especially several former POWs….  leaders and volunteers from our POW/MIA family and veterans groups…. and, the dedicated men and women who are working around the globe to recover and return our missing Americans.

Over the past 230-plus years, a promise has been made to the men and women who wear the cloth of our nation.  However long it takes, whatever it takes, whatever the cost—no American will be left behind.  Every effort and attempt will be made to rescue or recover the captured and fallen—and bring them home.

That pledge has given hope to thousands of brave men and women seized by the enemy, as well as comfort to the families of the missing. 

Today, the remarkable resilience of our POWs, our missing servicemen and women, and their families is an inspiration to all Americans. 

And, this morning we are fortunate to have with us a man who embodies that same selfless devotion to preserve all that America stands for.
 
Throughout his career, Congressman Ike Skelton has championed the cause of our military and the men and women who serve our nation in the Armed Forces.  He has been a leading advocate for our military’s combat readiness and the quality of life for our service members and their families.  A self-described student of military history and a leader in the House of Representatives on defense issues, Congressman Skelton serves as Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.   

Now, perhaps it's the military in his blood that may explain why he has been such a tireless supporter of the men and women who wear—and have worn—the cloth of our nation.  After all, he comes from a military family. 

His father, Ike Skelton III, was a World War II veteran–served in the Navy on the battleship Missouri.  Congressman Skelton himself aspired to join, but health prevented him from doing so.  Today, we are grateful to his sons for their service on behalf of our country. 

Mr. Chairman—thank you.  Thank you for your continued commitment to our POWs and those individuals missing in action and their families.  And, we thank you for your tireless support of our men and women in uniform, our veterans and retirees, and their loved ones. 

Ladies and gentleman, it is indeed my great privilege and high honor to present my good friend and a great patriot, Chairman Ike Skelton.