Thank you, Doc [Cooke, Director, Washington Headquarters Services]. Thank you all for being here, especially when there is so much other important work to do. But, what we’re talking about here is important work. And it’s part of our whole mission that we’re engaged in now. I’m glad in Doc that we’ve got such an expert at the helm of this enterprise—I understand in your eleven years as Chairman of the Board, you’ve raised more than 500 million dollars. Even here in Washington, that’s what they call "real money." [Laughter.]
Secretary [of Veterans Affairs Anthony] Principi, we very appreciate your leadership as the CFC’s National Capital Area Chairman. And we appreciate your leadership on behalf of our nation’s veterans, whose letters of support and encouragement keep pouring in. Some veterans of World War II and Korea have even offered us their services one more time. That proves that the patriotic spirit is alive and well—especially among America’s most senior veterans—and it’s what’s going to get us through the difficult times ahead. Secretary [of the Army Thomas] White, Secretary [of the Air Force Jim] Roche, thank you for sharing your time with us. VA Assistant Secretary Maureen Cragin; Assistant Secretary [of Defense for Force Management Policy] Charlie Abell; distinguished guests, most importantly [President and CEO, United Black Fund] Wilhemina Rolark, ladies and gentlemen.
Three weeks ago when firefighters and soldiers raised Old Glory near the angry wound in the walls of this building, that simple action defied the carnage around them. But even more important, they offered us a vivid testament to a greater truth: No one can come into our house and destroy its true foundations—those foundations are the ideals on which we’ve built our military services and we’ve built our country.
In the days since then, Doc and his team have led an enormous task of securing and cleaning our house—thus beginning the process of restoring this grand old building to its very foundations. I want to thank you, Doc, and everyone who’s been a part of these healing efforts.
America’s ideals do indeed remain solid, intact—in this building, in New York City, and across the nation. We’ve seen countless instances that prove it: selfless Americans turning towards the Pentagon in the first desperate moments after the attack, young soldiers combing through the wreckage looking for answers for families and friends, and, in New York, rescue workers giving the ultimate sacrifice so that others might live.
Americans reached out to one another, and that reaching out has been one of our most powerful means of healing our national wounds. Walter Lippman once said, "We are not mere individuals isolated in a tempest. We are members of a community and what we do, what we have to do, we shall do together, with friends beside us."
With friends beside us here today, we can pledge once again to do what we can do for the members of our community who endure this tempest, or almost any other tempest that life may bring.
The charities of the Combined Federal Campaign give gifts of education, nutrition, and other life-giving support to those who need it—whatever the crisis, wherever it happens. And, it’s significant that almost every agency providing national and local relief in the wake of September 11th is part of the Combined Federal Campaign. Across the nation, generosity has already been overwhelming. Given the scope of the devastation, the need will be great for some time to come.
Last year, the generous people of the Department of Defense literally outdid themselves with almost $12 million dollars in contributions. And those of you who were here when we presented the check in March know that I arrived here just in time to take some of the credit for it. [Laughter.] I’m happy to join this year’s effort at the ground floor, and this year, our goal is just over $11 million dollars, and we’re going to exceed it. The need today is even greater. And donations in the hands of CFC’s charities will indeed make a big difference for countless people.
Millionaire oilman and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller understood the value of putting money into expert hands. One year as his birthday approached, Rockefeller discovered that his family was planning to surprise him with what was, at the time, a new-fangled electric car. "If it’s all the same to you, " he told his surprised family, "I’d rather have the money." [Laughter.]
In the hands of the organizations of CFC, our money will multiply into lasting benefits for those who need them the most. That includes support of the finest military men and women in the world.
Somebody once asked that great American philosopher, Yogi Berra, "What time is it?" And Yogi incisively answered, "You mean now?" [Laughter.] Well, we mean now. Now is the time for all of us to dig into our pockets and pocket books to help exceed our goal for the Combined Federal Campaign once again.
I want to thank you all in advance for what I know is going to be a great campaign. Thank you, Doc, and everyone here, for giving your time and effort—we’re going to make this work. [Applause.]