Seal of the Department of Defense U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
On the Web:
Media contact: +1 (703) 697-5131/697-5132
Public contact:
or +1 (703) 571-3343

Combined Federal Campaign Awards
Remarks as Delivered by Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, The Pentagon, Washington, DC, Thursday, April 20, 2000

Secretary Cohen: Secretary [of the Army Louis] Caldera, [Under Secretary of the Navy] Jerry Hultin, generals, other distinguished guests, welcome. I cannot believe another year has passed by.

I want to say that this meeting was originally was scheduled for January, but unfortunately at that time Doc Cooke [Director, Washington Headquarters Services] could not be present. [Laughter.] So it was cancelled, but the announcement indicated that it was on account of snow. [Laughter.] Which raises two very important questions. Exactly how sweeping are the powers of Doc Cooke? [Laughter.] Did he order the Pentagon to close down? Or did he order the snowfall? [Laughter.] We have yet to calculate exactly how sweeping those powers are.

Doc Cooke: They weren’t sweeping enough to clean up the snow. [Laughter.]

Secretary Cohen: But what I would like to say to all of you is what Doc has already said. What an incredible performance we have had this year.

I know Secretary Caldera, Jerry Hultin and others also make these various visits, but I just returned a few weeks ago from the [Persian] Gulf. On the way I stopped first in Nigeria, then up to Israel and Egypt. But in the Gulf I had occasion to go out and visit all the sailors and Marines abroad the USS Stennis and to see how they were carrying out their mission under fairly austere conditions. I went to Kuwait's Udari firing range where I saw the Marines out there in a live fire exercise in 120-degree temperatures. And this is the early part of spring so you can imagine what’s coming up this summer. I also went to Camp Doha in Kuwait, and at Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia I met again with the pilots who are carrying out Operation Southern Watch.

Visits like that are always a great inspiration. You can’t help but come back feeling totally inspired, and all of that is captured by our great photographer Bob [Ward]. But what an inspiration it is to see the kind of tremendous team we have supporting people the world over bringing them hope and opportunity, and then to come back and see the support team that’s here also dedicated to bringing hope and opportunity through the CFC.

I know that each year I come and say this, but I am an optimist and we are going to predict the future even though it is hard to make predications, especially about the future. But we did last year. We said we were going to do even better. Our goal was $9.9 million. We did a lot better. We are about to present a check for $11 million. That’s because of you. That’s because of Doc, who’s always saying that we have to give a little more.

That’s the kind of leadership we’ve had from Doc and from all of you who say that we have a lot of work to do to help people who don’t have as much hope or opportunity as we would like them to have, whether it comes in the form of medicine or providing accommodations for people while love ones are in a hospital, whatever the need and whatever is taking place. This is what the Combined Federal Campaign is all about.

I think it was Emerson who said that "you can pay back only seldom. But you can always pay forward." That’s what this really is about. We can’t go back and correct some of the inequities in our society often enough. But what we can do is invest in the future. And so this program of ours is investing in people in the future and giving them better opportunity for their quality of life.

So I wanted to come by once again and to say thank you and to Doc for naming me chairman [laughter] and for always stopping by my office and cracking the whip, saying, "How’s it coming?" But without your leadership of so many years we wouldn’t be as successful as we are.

So next year we’ll make another prediction. We’ll set our goal and I will be willing to predict that we will surpass it and hopefully I’ll still be here [laughter] if we can have that meeting early in January.

Doc Cooke: Before the 21st.

Secretary Cohen: Before the 21st. Thank you very much. [Laughter and applause.]