Assistant to the President for National
Remarks to Graduating Class
Great Lakes Naval
May 24, 1996
Acknowledgments: Rear Admiral Pat Tracey, Captain Hugh "Mick" McCullom
To the men and women of the Recruit Training Command graduating class... to your families,
friends, and other cheerleaders who pulled for you over the last two months... this is your day,
and I am very proud to share it with you.
President Clinton asked me to come here today, to thank you -- on behalf of the American people
-- for your service to our nation. Nine and a half weeks ago, you traveled here -- 951 new
recruits from all 50 states of the union. Today, you stand as part of one Navy team -- unified,
committed, and strong.
From this day forward, you have important work to do: You will protect America's security...
and project America's strength and values all around the world. As the President said Wednesday
at the Coast Guard Academy commencement, there is no higher calling.
Today, each of you is entering the ranks of the greatest Navy on earth. From the Battle of Lake
Erie to the Philippine Sea... from Korea to the Persian Gulf... the United States Navy has flown
and defended freedom's flag around the world. Today, that Navy -- today, your Navy -- has
never been stronger or more versatile.
As I look out at you, I'm remembering the times I have seen the Navy in action. Look at your
record of achievement in just the last two years: When Saddam Hussein moved forces toward
Kuwait in 1994, the Navy was there -- with Tomahawk missiles -- to help make him think again.
When the people of Haiti were being killed and driven from their homes, the Navy was there to
force the dictators down... and lend a helping hand to our neighbor. When the people of Bosnia
were under siege, the Navy was there to enforce the embargo against Serbia... and to launch the
NATO air strikes that brought the parties to the peace table. When China expanded its military
exercises near Taiwan, Navy aircraft carriers were there to defuse a potential crisis... and to
demonstrate America's commitment to peace and stability in Asia. When dangerous fighting
broke out in Liberia, the Navy-Marine Corps Team was there to help evacuate American
citizens... and save American lives. The President knows -- we all know -- that when we call on
the Navy, it delivers.
And the next time America calls on our Navy, it is you who will be there -- to stand up for
freedom... to protect our interests... to show the world what is best about America... to do
I can't guarantee that the course you have chosen will always be smooth sailing -- but I can tell
you that your journey will be exciting. And I can tell you that the President -- and our people --
are grateful and proud of you as you embark on it.
Our Navy is great because its people are great. Our Navy is strong because its people are strong.
Today you will leave here for new assignments -- at home, abroad, on shore, and at sea. As you
do the jobs you've been trained to do with skill, with strength, and with honor... I hope you are as
proud of yourselves and your Navy... as your nation is proud of you.
Captain McCullom spoke movingly of Admiral Mike Boorda. As you begin your Navy voyage --
as he did, 40 years ago -- he would want you to set your standards high... for yourselves, for your
Navy, for your nation. I wish he was here, to take pride in you and to inspire you. I think Mike
Boorda is here. And will be with you throughout your careers.
So to each of you, congratulations. From this day forward, you are sailors. I wish
you good luck. God bless you. And God bless our nation.
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