Speech
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Secretary of Defense Speech

Remarks on Receiving the Ronald Reagan Peace Through Strength Award

Dec. 3, 2016
As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Secretary of Defense Ash Carter

Good evening, everyone.  This speech is not going to be about physics or medieval history, but thank you, Ann [Korologos], I appreciate it.  And thanks to everyone at the Reagan Foundation. For this award, I’m pleased to join its distinguished group of recipients, and my wife Stephanie and I are pleased to be with you all – all of you this evening. 

The Reagan Forum is always an opportunity to see some of the many colleagues past and present, public servants, and leaders, who’ve continued to ensure the greatness of America’s military.

You’ve honored one of those leaders tonight.  Vice President Dick Cheney, congratulations.  Now, I see Dick’s portrait out in the Secretary of Defense Hallway every day at the Pentagon, but it’s good to be here with him, and with our new U.S. Representative-elect, Liz. 

Even in that hallway of paintings, amid some of the giants and the history makers who’ve led the Defense Department, Dick Cheney stands out for the breadth and depth of his service to our country.  Through strategic era after strategic era – whether at the White House or in Congress, on the E-Ring or as Vice President – Dick has helped ensure the continued, continued excellence of our military today, which I’m privileged to lead.

We haven’t done – neither of us have had to do that alone.  This award and this evening represent the continuity and the excellence, which I spoke about earlier today.  For decades, we’ve worked with many of you here in this room for “Peace through Strength.” 

While we Americans may disagree at times on specifics, together, with many of the people in this room and many others, we’ve all worked under the belief that America is most secure and the world is most peaceful when the United States and its military have the strength to lead, to defend our country, and to make a better world.

And I am confident, confident, and hopeful, that we can continue to come together to ensure that ours remains the finest fighting force the world has ever known.  And that’s because every day – and on every trip like the one I’m about to take to the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, and Europe – I see soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who are helping to defend this country during, like I said earlier, a time of strategic transition.

Today, as we are here this evening, there are almost 3 million of them serving across this country and around the clock, in every time zone on earth, and in every domain – all in service to our great nation. 

Because of their continued excellence, we can be confident we’ll meet the challenges of today’s strategic transition and also the uncertain future. 

All of them are defending not only the United States and its people; they’re also defending the values and principles that define us, and which are why we have so many friends and allies around the world and our antagonists have few.

And because of their continued excellence, Americans can celebrate these upcoming holidays with family and friends.  They can live their lives, they can dream their dreams, and they can enjoy the freedoms upon which this country was built, and for which so many generations of Americans have fought, and leave a better world for their children.   

DoD’s people make all that possible.  And at a time when not as many serve, we need to make sure they know – and Americans know – that we don’t take them for granted.  Stephanie and I begin every day thinking of them.  So I thank you – I thank you for this award, and I thank you for all the support you give our men and women in uniform. 

But above all, I want you to cast your thoughts in this upcoming holiday season to those 3 million wonderful, talented, dedicated people.  Keep them in your thoughts, keep them in your words so that others who don’t know, but should know, can understand what they do – the significance of it and the fact we can’t take any of it for granted.

Bless them.  Bless all of you in this holiday season. And of course, above all, bless the United States of America.

Thank you so much.