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Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks Closing Remarks for the Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of Racial Desegregation in the Armed Forces and Federal Workforce

Good morning, and let me pass along my thanks as well to not only everyone who put this together, and the great speakers that we've had, but also to all of you who came out today to commemorate. Thank you for spending the time with us. 

Since the forming of this nation, service members and civilians of all races, colors, and creeds have advanced and defended our freedoms here at home and abroad—and they've demonstrated extraordinary bravery and expertise during times of conflict and peace.

Ending segregation in the armed forces and the federal workforce were historic steps.

For the Department of Defense, President Truman's Executive Orders created the opportunity to grow the largest and most diverse military and civilian workforce in the world. Since then, service members of color have risen through the ranks—commanding destroyer squadrons and submarines at sea; launching to space and returning back home again, breaking the glass ceiling and leading as four-star generals and admirals; and representing the United States of America overseas.

No one better personifies this progress than Secretary Austin, and I'm grateful we were able to hear his remarks on this important day.

President Truman's actions have created progress well beyond this department. Any legal or moral justification for segregation crumbled in the wake of it. In the decades that followed, segregation in the nation's public schools and public spaces also came to an end. These decisions moved the entire nation closer to the promise of racial equality.

But there is more work to advance this progress that we rightfully celebrate today.

That's why the Department is proudly carrying the torch of freedom handed down to it from prior generations—by building the best all-volunteer fighting force in the world; by recruiting, training, and retaining a civilian workforce that reflects all the talents this country has to offer; and by expanding opportunity, so that aspiring soldiers, sailors, and Marines… airmen and guardians; engineers and scientists; policy analysts and financial managers; and all those in-between who wish to serve this nation can pursue their dream without barriers and without limits.

Thank you once again to our speakers, and please join me in one more round of applause for our distinguished guests who fought so hard, for so long, to advance the causes of justice, dignity, and freedom.