League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia Annual Candlelight Dinner

Article excerpt

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Crystal City Hilton, Crystal City, VA, Thursday, June 26, 2003.

Admiral Fargo, you're a tough act to follow. Allow me to thank you for your strong leadership in the Pacific region, of our men and women in uniform and in this important cause. And thank you Joanne [Shirley, Chairman of the Board] and Ann [Mills Griffiths, Executive Director]. Thank you for everything that you and the members of the League continue to do to keep the focus on our unfinished business in Southeast Asia and other parts of the world. I'm pleased to see members of our Armed Forces who are doing such a wonderful job defending our country today.

It's hard to believe, but I think it's been some 20 years now since my first League dinner. And the strength of devotion that's apparent among the family members of our missing servicemen and the friends who support this noble cause never fails to inspire me.

The brave men and women who are serving today in Afghanistan and Iraq and other theaters in the war on terrorism can do so with full confidence that if they should fall in battle, this nation will spare no effort to bring them home. That's our solemn pledge. However long it takes, wherever it takes us, whatever the cost. Jerry Jennings [Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Prisoners of War and Missing Personnel] will make sure of that--and all the fine and dedicated people who are working for him here and around the globe. And, of course, the League will make sure of that, too.

But, I would add that you don't have to worry about the involvement, the determination or the commitment of your government to bring our missing Americans home. I know that's the heart of the strong message Jerry delivered on behalf of President Bush to the government of Vietnam a couple weeks ago. We are committed--committed to accounting as fully as possible for your missing loved ones. Ann often says that the League's business is to go out of business. I would add that we would like nothing more than to hasten that day.

Now, I have another very important message that Jerry has asked me to share with you. It's a little surprise ... and it's for you, Ann. That's assuming it's possible to get anything by Ann. It's a message from a gentleman whose name will be familiar to everyone here ... a leader at the very highest level of government, and a great friend to the League.

"Dear Ms. Griffiths:

Congratulations on your more than 25 years of service as the Executive Director of the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia.

I commend your work on behalf of service members who were prisoners of war and missing in action during the Vietnam War. …