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Medal of Honor Ceremony for Staff Sergeant Ty M. Carter

As Prepared for Delivery by Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter, The Pentagon, Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Thank you, General Campbell and Undersecretary Westphal for your words.

Thank you all, each and every one of you, for being here today.  And on behalf of Secretary of Defense Hagel and the entire Department of Defense, thank you for coming to recognize this extraordinary hero, Ty Carter.

General Campbell's talked about the battle and the man that is Ty.  And Secretary Westphal spoke of family – the importance of family, and of the larger family in this wonderful department that serves this wonderful country.

But I'd like to say a little something about what this honor being bestowed upon Staff Sergeant Carter today means to the larger country – what it ought to mean to the larger country, because President Kennedy once said, "A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces, but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers."

Today, we honor you, Ty Carter, who by virtue of your remarkable courage and gallantry, now take your rightful place as only one of 12 Americans from your generation to have received the Medal of Honor.

So thank you once again, Ty, for your service, for your courage, for your leadership and for the example that you set for all of us.  I think I speak for all Americans, and certainly for the family that is us in this Department, when I say that we are grateful for what you've done for us, what you've done for our country.

Ty Carter, like so many of his fellow soldiers, heard the sound of danger one morning and chose to run toward it.  He did so repeatedly, entering the line of fire to resupply ammunition, rescue a critically injured teammate, and secure a radio that eventually helped save his team. 

His bold actions that day are emblematic, not just of the decisions of fellow soldiers in his unit, but of a generation.  A generation of soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen that have distinguished themselves during 12 hard years of persistent conflict.

And, perhaps, one of the reasons that examples of combat valor resonate so strongly with each of us, regardless of whether or how we've served, is that Ty Carter's story, like those of all Medal of Honor recipients, reflects our own highest aspirations.

We're all reminded of fire and police personnel rushing into skyscrapers in New York on 9/11.  Sergeant Carter's actions are those of teachers rushing to shelter children at Sandy Hook. They are those of the Coast Guard rescue swimmer who leapt into action in the middle of a moonless night earlier this month to save a downed pilot miles off the coast of Virginia – lesser, perhaps, incidences than Ty's, but indicative.

His actions are the deeds and spirit, in that sense, of thousands of common men and women capable of uncommon valor in the most extraordinary and unexpected circumstances.  In so many ways, the Medal of Honor Sergeant Carter received represents not just the best of him, but the best of all of us, all that we hope to be. 

We live in uncertain times.  The work that Sergeant Carter and his unit undertook in Afghanistan is far from complete.  We will preserve the hard earned lessons that we've learnt from over a decade of war, and adapt them to new threats as they arise.

The world is getting smaller, more complicated, and in many ways less predictable and more dangerous.  We face challenges today that will likely influence our national security for decades to come.  Amidst these challenges, Sergeant Carter's induction as a Medal of Honor recipient is a reminder of the strength and endurance, not just of our fighting men and women, but of our national spirit.

Ours will always be a country that runs toward the sound of danger in order to preserve the ideals we cherish. 

Sergeant Carter, you are joining a prestigious fellowship of warriors who have exhibited the utmost courage and bravery in battle.  With this honor comes an opportunity to continue to inspire not just your brothers and sisters in the military, but the country as a whole.

It is a platform to fight for the values and causes that you hold dear.  We counted on you at COP Keating, and now we count on you to remind Americans of the best that we all can be.

I know that raising awareness about the impacts of post-traumatic stress is a cause particularly close to your heart, and I was struck in my time with you by your humility and fierce integrity.  I have no doubt that your courageous acts in Afghanistan are only your beginning of your service to this country and to your fellow servicemembers.

I had the opportunity to also meet your wonderful wife.  I can see that she's a source of strength and will be part of this new enterprise and new duty that will dominate your life – starting from yesterday when President Obama gave you this award, and every day moving forward.

But once again, we're counting on you to remind Americans about the best that they can be.  And on this whole lovely family that comes with you.

I should say, by the way, that my branch of the Carter family is the black sheep side.  You are the white sheep side. 

Ty, congratulations on this momentous occasion.  In you, we find a sacrifice that must be honored, a gallant example of all that should be emulated, and a poignant reminder of the nature of courage that can live within us all. 

Thank you from the President, from the Secretary of Defense, from your big wonderful family in this big wonderful department, and from this nation – for your service, past and future. Congratulations.

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