Ray [DuBois, Director, Washington Headquarters Services], thank you. As I look around, I see a lot of distinguished people here, and I'm going to stay out of trouble by not recognizing you all individually. But, on this occasion that celebrates public service, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention a man whose lifetime defined public service, a life embodied in that great man we lost not so long ago-Doc Cooke [previous Director, Washington Headquarters Services]. Doc once said that "you make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give."
It's absolutely fitting that he should be remembered today as a "Distinguished Executive" because, during his decades of public service, he truly gave a lot.
I know he's here in spirit, and, Ray, I know he's looking on you kindly-maybe even a little bit critically. But he's wishing you the best. And you've done a magnificent job trying and succeeding in filling Doc's giant shoes.
Now, someone once told me that most of our distinguished executives enjoy their work so much, they almost feel guilty getting paid for it. I think it was Doc Cooke, when he was signing me up for this ceremony last year; but, it might have been Secretary Rumsfeld when he was telling me about his job.
Of course, as many of you know, Don Rumsfeld's also the man who remarked, on my very first day on the job, that this was my third tour, and they'd keep bringing me back until I got it right. Of course, he's back for his second time around. Now, I didn't ask him what we may infer from that. No doubt, that was my first right move. But, I know he's enjoying his second try.
And, of course, I suspect Doc drew immense pleasure from his job as "Mayor of the Pentagon." Doc's favorite photo offers a compelling clue.. It's the one that had Doc seated in a chair with nine former Secretaries of Defense standing behind him, a photo Don Rumsfeld has referred to as "The Godfather and his Henchmen." Ray-think what you can aspire to.
Well, this is one distinguished and select group that has aspired to getting it right the first time and every time and, in the process, excelling in government service.
And while we have here today a wide range of talents and expertise, there's one thing that all of our award recipients share, and that's a commitment to public service that advances the cause of freedom.
Through your work, you contribute to the enduring values that America stands for: the right to live in safety and security, the right to enjoy peace and prosperity, the right to self-government that we prize so much in our great country.
It's been said that government is only as good as the people who make it work one day at a time. You're the good people-the very good people. To be selected for such a prestigious award speaks to your exceptional performance-and is quite an honor. We're delighted to have the opportunity to recognize your outstanding service to America.
Time doesn't permit me to detail your many accomplishments. But, I may say that, collectively, you have looked for ways to save the taxpayers' money, and you have found them. You've searched for ways to streamline our operations, and you have succeeded. You have been inspired to use your impressive talents to better serve America, and you are doing it-magnificently.
We know that the great fight for freedom surely did not end on the beaches named Omaha and Normandy. It continues today-here in this building and in others around Washington. Your efforts-and those of all the civilians who serve throughout the Department-ensure that our warriors in Afghanistan, those here and around the world, have the weapons and support they need today.
Your vision and dedication will help us fulfill the Department's responsibility to ensure our military men and women have the tools they will need in the decades to come. Whenever they go into harm's way, it will be with the very best tools and support we can give them.
We are proud of you. And we will continue to count on you in the days ahead, for there is much work yet to do as we continue to fight the war against terror while we transform our forces for the 21st Century. Yours is a truly noble calling.
Since these are "Presidential" Rank Awards, I think it fitting we recall the words of a president.
There is a story that, after he'd retired, President Eisenhower once went to buy a piece of land in Gettysburg and the local clerk said to him, "Well, President Eisenhower, you've done everything, you've lived everywhere, why would you want this little piece of land in Gettysburg?" He answered, saying, "Sir, all my life I have wanted one time to be able to take a small piece of America and make it better."
Like Eisenhower, each of our award recipients has worked to make America better. That's an ethic and achievement that inspires us all-and honors those who have gone before us. We're proud of you. On behalf of Secretary Rumsfeld and the rest of the Department, thank you and congratulations. Now, it's a sound strategic principle to reinforce success. With that in mind, and without further ado, let's present the awards.