The Naval Order of the United States

U.S. Department of Defense Speeches, October 20, 2006 | Go to article overview

The Naval Order of the United States


Remarks by Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England

at the Naval Order of the United States

Admiral George Dewey Award

Arlington, VA

20 October 2006

Thank you, Carter [CAPT Conlin, USN (ret)] for the warm introduction and thanks to the Naval Order of the United States for this very gracious and generous honor.

Thank you for the invitation to me and my family to join you today. It's always nice to share memorable experiences with your family. And today it's especially nice--and especially appropriate--since my wife Dotty has been my partner in service these last 5-plus years, and is the sponsor of the US Coast Guard Cutter Sequoia. My daughter Marisa is a nurse at the US Naval Hospital in Okinawa. This is a Naval family!

It's a privilege and honor to follow in the footsteps of President George H. W. Bush, the first recipient of this award. I was with the President a few days ago, at his presidential library at Texas A&M. He is truly a great American--and a wonderful person.

Today, since we're meeting just after lunch, you may be pleased to hear my theory of remarks. The perfect after-lunch remarks include a short but interesting introduction; a short, memorable conclusion, and as little as possible in between!

Looking back at my own career, I have truly been blessed.

There have always been three truly great jobs in the world: Manager of the New York Yankees, Coach of Notre Dame football, and Secretary of the Navy ... but not in that order! It was a true privilege serving with the brave men and women of the US Navy and the US Marine Corps.

In fact, I've had the distinct--and, I think, unique--honor, of leading the brave men and women of all of our Nation's Sea Services, since--as the first Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security--I had the opportunity to integrate the US Coast Guard into that organization.

All of our Nation's Sea Services have inspired my deepest respect. Working with them, I've had the opportunity to build close and lasting friendships with the leadership. Tomorrow, you'll be honoring my good friend and a magnificent American, ADM Vern Clark. I am blessed, you are blessed, and the Nation is blessed to have such great men serve America.

It is truly an honor to join you today, to reflect on America's maritime history. The Companions of the Naval Order perform an essential service to the Nation, by keeping alive and furthering our strong, proud naval traditions. Back in 1963, at the US Naval Academy, President John F. Kennedy told the midshipmen: "Any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction--'I served in the United States Navy'."

All the men and women of Naval Order have also chosen to serve in one of our Nation's Sea Services, and again as part of this Naval Order. You have lived lives of service--and I do thank you and applaud you.

As it turns out, the year 1890 was a pivotal point in America's naval history. That was the year that Mahan published his path-breaking book, "The Influence of Sea Power Upon History". His work is still read today in our school houses and war colleges. And 1890 was also the year that the Naval Order got its start--your own hard work, every day, proves Mahan's point, about sea power's profound and lasting influence.

America inherited a bold sea-faring tradition from Christopher Columbus ... and made it her own. The Naval Order's current projects and initiatives reflect the deepest appreciation for our past struggles and successes, and for the lessons and value they still hold today.

I also applaud your support for naming the USS Constitution America's "ship of state". "Old Ironsides" was a founding "member" of the US Navy, and built to outfight any other warship. …

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