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National POW/MIA Recognition Day
Remarks as Delivered by Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, The Pentagon Parade Ground, Friday, September 16, 2005

[Chairman oftheJoint Chiefs of Staff] General [Richard] Myers, thank you, as always, for your very inspiring words and your kind remarks. As you know, this is maybe the last of General Myers' ceremonies as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. It is most fitting that he is here today in this capacity because it reflects his own commitment to the cause of accounting for America's missingýa commitment that was born, as it was for many, many here, during the difficult days of the war in Vietnam. His commitment has been tireless and unwavering just like his service to our nation.

 

General Myers has been a rock of strength and a source of steady judgment, and he is, without fail, a man whose presence alone is reassuring. General, it's been a great honor and a distinct personal pleasure to serve with you, and I'd like to take this opportunity, on behalf of all of us, to thank you for your magnificent service to America. [Applause.]

 

We are joined today by others who've served our nation with their own selfless sacrifice: the members of America's magnificent Armed Forces, and many of our brave veterans, including the many former POWs who join with us; the leaders and the volunteers of our MIA family and veterans groups; the dedicated men and women who are working around the globe to recover and return our missing Americans; and, finally, our special guest, Chairman Duncan Hunter.

 

We're here to remember, we're here to honor, the courage of America's captives and our missing countrymen who risked everything, facing the worst of war to preserve the best of America. We are hereýabove allýto reaffirm our commitment to keep the pledge President Bush made to make "the fullest possible accounting of our prisoners of war and those missing in action."

 

The brave men and women who serve todayýwhether in Afghanistan or Iraq or in other theatersýcan do so with full confidence that if they are captured, become missing or fall in battle, this nation will spare no effort to bring them home. That, too, is our solemn pledge: however long it takes, whatever it takes, whatever the cost, we will bring them home.

 

It was enormously gratifying for me to join with so many others at the Freedom Walk this past Sunday [September 11th], who came out to honor the sacrifice of the patriots who died that day, and to remember those who have served in all the days before and since to protect and defend the liberties and the freedoms that we so cherish.

 

We have with us today a man who embodies that same selfless devotion to preserve all that America stands for. As a soldier and as a Congressman, Chairman Duncan Hunter's life's work has been devoted to fighting for America. For Chairman Hunter, this seems to be the sort of inclination he comes by naturally. Someone once wrote, he "has the military in his blood." And let me tell you what that means.

 

When our liberty was threatened during the Second World War, his father served as an artillery officer in the South Pacific. And later, a young Duncan Hunter would follow in his father's footsteps, as an Army Ranger, conducting infantry combat in Vietnam. Chairman Hunter has been known to downplay his own combat role. But there are many people, probably many here today, who understand that any type of combat mission is dangerous.

 

After September 11th, the Hunter family tradition of military service continued once more. I am pleased that it continued in one of our sea services, when Chairman Hunter's oldest son became a U.S. Marine who went on to fight in the global war on terror, serving two tours in Iraq.

 

Perhaps it's the military in his blood that may explain why Chairman Hunter has been such a tireless advocate for the men and women who wearýand have wornýthe cloth of our nation.

 

In his role as the leader of the House Armed Services Committee, I have had the very personal privilege of working with him on many issues of importance: IEDsýimprovised explosive devices, how do we defeat themýarmored vehicles, acquisition reform, homeland security, ship design, it goes on and on. I will tell you that he is knowledgeable and articulate across the whole array of defense issues.

 

Given his own tradition of family service, I know that the Chairman shares this nation's commitmentýthat we will not rest until we have the fullest possible accounting of each American who has risked everything in service to our country.

 

So Mr. Chairman, we thank you for your support of an issue that truly defines the essence of who we are as a people and who we are as a nation.

 

Ladies and gentleman, it is my honor and my privilege to present my good friend and a great patriot, Chairman Duncan Hunter. [Applause.]