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Remarks by Secretary Panetta at the Blue Star Families and Kaboom Playground Building Event, Fort George G. Meade, Md.

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta
September 10, 2011

            MODERATOR: Oh, come on. (Inaudible.) How are you doing?

            CROWD: (Cheers.)

            MODERATOR: Are we going to build a playground?

            CROWD: Yes!

            MODERATOR: Are we going to get it done today?

            CROWD: Yes!

            MODERATOR: What’s really cool is having all you here -- 300-plus volunteers. This is phenomenal. What a wonderful opportunity for me to participate with you. And even more so, at this moment it’s a great opportunity I have to introduce your secretary of defense, Mr. Panetta.

             (Applause, cheers.)

            SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LEON PANETTA: Thank you very much.

            This is fantastic, and really quite a thrill to have a chance to come out and see so many volunteers coming out and trying to help on this playground. This is what America is all about. You know, I’ve spent the last few days, obviously, paying tribute to 9/11. And almost every day I’ve had events that recall the tragedy of that day, and the victims that paid the highest price for what took place, but one of the things I’ve said at every event is that out of that tragedy this country has drawn tremendous inspiration, tremendous resilience, and tremendous dedication, first to make sure that what happened on 9/11 never happens again, but more importantly to bring this country together with people that contribute their service to United States of America.

            We have had a generation of men and women in uniform that have put their lives on the line and have committed themselves to protecting this country. And in addition to them and their families, people like all of you -- by your very presence here today committing your service to making sure that this country always remains strong.

            I’ve said this a number of times. I’m the son of Italian immigrants, and I used to ask my parents, you know, what brought them to this country. And my mother and father used to say to me that the reason they came to this country is because they really believed they could give their children a better life. And I think that’s the American dream. That’s what all of us want. And it’s that dream that brings us all out here today to make sure that through our work and through our service and through our dedication, we make certain that these kids have a better life in this country. If we can do that, we can fulfill the American dream, and we can make sure that future generations will look back and say thank you, thanks to all of you for the sacrifice and for the service. This is what America is all about.

            Great to be here. Thank you for your service.

             (Applause.)

            MODERATOR: Thank you, sir, very much. (Inaudible.)

            SEC. PANETTA: By the way, let me also acknowledge Patty Shinseki, who is also here. Patty -- ah great.

             (Applause.)

            SEC. PANETTA: This lady is great. Her husband runs the Veterans Administration and does a tremendous job, but it’s great to have Patty come out and help. I’ll let her work on the concrete with me. Thank you again.

            MODERATOR: Thank you, sir.

             (Applause.)

            MODERATOR: Time to get back to work!