An official website of the United States Government 
Here's how you know

Official websites use .gov

.gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

You have accessed part of a historical collection on Some of the information contained within may be outdated and links may not function. Please contact the DOD Webmaster with any questions.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III Remarks at Memorial Service (as delivered)

Thank you, Dr. Walsh, for the kind introduction, and good morning, everyone.

Let me again welcome the family and loved ones of Corporal George Gonzalez. It is an honor to have all of you here with us today.

I know that no words can fill the hole in your heart. I know that no ceremony can ease your loss. But I hope you know that the entire Department of Defense stands united in mourning alongside you.

We will never forget that Corporal Gonzalez gave his life to protect the tens of thousands of people who work within these walls.

To honor his legacy of service—in Iraq, and also here at the Pentagon, and elsewhere—we’re joined by the Department’s senior leaders, uniformed service members and civilians alike, and leaders from the law-enforcement community as well.

And we’re joined by Corporal Gonzalez’s teammates from the Pentagon Force Protection Agency—especially his brothers and sisters from the First Platoon.

Ladies and gentlemen, these are the Pentagon’s Finest.

Like Corporal Gonzalez, these brave men and women are drawn to serve, and committed to a cause bigger than themselves.

And like Corporal Gonzalez, they do this job quietly, professionally, and with an abiding belief that ours is an institution worth protecting.

And like Corporal Gonzalez, they do this knowing that it may mean making the ultimate sacrifice.

So on behalf of the Department of Defense, I want to thank all of you for putting your lives on the line for all of us. We are truly grateful.

Because everything—everything—that we do here relies on people like Corporal Gonzalez.

The Pentagon defends the nation. And you defend the Pentagon.

Now, I know that it’s heartbreaking to lose a teammate—to suddenly and shockingly have to salute them for the last time.

But I hope that we can honor Corporal Gonzalez’s memory by coming together in a spirit of community and by renewing our sense of common purpose.

As you’ve heard, that’s the effect that Corporal Gonzalez had on so many people.

I’m told that a couple of years ago, Corporal Gonzalez was grieving the death of one of his former officers and consoling a friend over a recent loss of their own. So he found himself thinking about his purpose in life. And he took to Facebook, and he wrote, “We may not completely blaze the trail we want, but the question is, will we be happy with the trail we leave behind?”

These words are now inscribed on a classroom wall in the Corporal George Gonzalez Training Range that Dr. Walsh just mentioned.

And they stand as a reminder and as a challenge to us all.

So let us do all we can to answer that question in our hearts and to honor Corporal Gonzalez’s memory.

And George, thank you for the trail that you have left behind.

A trail of duty.

A trail of service.

A trail of honor.

Corporal George Gonzalez, may God grant you peace.

May God bless your family and loved ones in their season of sorrow.

And may God protect all those who protect us.

Thank you very much, and God bless each and every one of you.