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Remarks by Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter at the Spirit of Service Ceremony

Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter
May 09, 2012

             ASHTON CARTER:  Well, thank you, Mike, and thank all of you who are here to celebrate these wonderful folks who are behind me.  Congratulations to you. 

            We're here for them, but also to celebrate the spirit of public service, which is really what defines this department and defines what each and every one of you, onstage, offstage, do every day -- exceptional public servants like these. 

            We do so at a very auspicious and consequential time.  Last week the nation observed an important anniversary.  One year ago, a team of Navy SEALs embarked on a successful mission to bring Osama bin Laden to justice.  The moment moved the nation and transfixed the world.  It helped heal the still-open wound from September 11th, 2001, including at this very location.  And it once again put the bravery, the selflessness and the heroism of our men and women on display. 

            When the news broke, I'm told it froze Twitter for a while, because the technology couldn't process the outpouring of thought and feeling.  Indeed, none of us will forget where we were and what we felt when we heard that news, even as we won't forget where we were and how we felt on September 11th, 2001. 

            It was just -- a decisive moment but really just another decisive moment for this wonderful department and the military, and it was an achievement for all who work to defend and protect this nation and really this world. 

            In the decade since 9/11, the country and we adapted and developed new skills to keep the United States secure.  It's been a busy decade.  We developed new doctrines in counterinsurgency and counterterrorism.  We learned a lot about nonstate groups, how to engage them, how to protect ourselves from them.  We learned to work effectively with other departments and agencies of government, and with our international allies and partners.  We built a strong bond between intelligence and military operations.  We adapted.  We changed.  We made the country safer.  

            We were only able to do so on such a large scale and with such speed because you, the people of this department, committed yourselves to the mission to support the war fighter.  

            So on behalf of Secretary Panetta, I thank each and every one of you, and each and every one of you in the courtyard today, for your service.  

            We recognize today a particular group of people whose work exemplifies the best of this department and who embody that spirit of public service.  To today's awardees, once again, congratulations.  

            You analyze intelligence, facilitate logistics, manage our human resources, getting the right people to the right places to meet our needs.  You oversee information systems, keep us connected.  You engage Congress.  And you develop critical strategies and plans.  Through all of this and more, you enable our war fighter, and you help the senior leadership make important decisions. 

            Your hard work and that of so many others is what keeps us strong.  It's not an abstract thing.  The Department of Defense has a critical mission.  Every day each and -- of us should and can wake up and know that we're making a real, tangible difference for the United States and for global security. 

            In an address to Congress in 1947, between World War II and the Korean War, President Harry Truman said, "America was not built on fear.  America was built on courage, on imagination and unbeatable determination to do the job at hand." 

            Over 60 years later, that same spirit permeates this country -- determination, imagination, courage.  Those qualities define this department.

            I see it every day in each and every one of you.  The nation's proud, grateful, and we're all the safer for it. 

            Congratulations, and thank you.  (Applause.)

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