view from within
Gordon England '75 (MBA) begins his second term as Secretary of the Navy,
his focus is never far from Sept. 11, 2001.
speech that Secretary of the Navy England gave at the Navy Ball in Houston
I am delighted
to be here this evening to celebrate 228 years of Navy excellence ╔ and
service to this country. It's especially terrific to do my celebrating
here with each of you in the great state of Texas ╔ or, as our commander-in-chief
would say, "back home."
is a dangerous time, and once again, it is our military -- Navy, Marine
Corps, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard -- who have boldly volunteered
to protect each of us and our very way of life. A student of history once
described a group of American freedom fighters this way. He said: "Hundreds
of soldiers had abandoned their homes to achieve everlasting freedom for
their children. They were fighting for all that makes life worth living
or gives value to its possession."
could have been written about any soldier or sailor serving in Afghanistan
or Iraq or Liberia or a hundred other places around the world today. But
these words were written 167 years ago, in a place not far from here,
about a group of brave Texans fighting in the Battle of San Jacinto.
patriots understood one very important truth: Freedom is worth fighting
for. For more than two centuries, that conviction has been one of the
foundations of our country and of this Navy we love.
used to call this phenomenon "Americanization." What he was talking about
was that special brand of patriotism that inspires a farmer or teacher,
a mechanic or doctor, an 18-year-old kid or middle-aged parent to go off
to war when our liberties and freedoms are threatened.
live and work in a far more threatening frontier of warfare than ever
before. For the first time in the history of the world, a small number
of people, without a country and without vast resources, can wreak untold
havoc against our cities, against our allies and against freedom-loving
people around the world.
ago, battles were fought under strict rules of engagement, and the method
of warfare was quite unsophisticated. Then during the Civil War, technology
made a giant leap. Improved rifles and cannon brought a horrifying increase
in the number of casualties that could be inflicted.
made a second leap in World War I as tanks and machine guns were added
to the mix. By World War II, airplanes, rockets, artillery, submarines
-- and, yes, weapons of mass destruction -- made war much more global with
the potential to destroy entire cities -- countries, even.
for the most part, adversaries on the field of battle played by a similar
rule book that acknowledged certain restraints. Some of these restraints
were even codified in international law. All of that changed Sept. 11,
2001. On that day, we found that the enemy we faced was like no other
in the history of this nation, or the world.
Bush told a group of New Hampshire National Guardsmen last week, "The
terrorists target the innocent. These committed killers will not be stopped
by negotiations; they won't respond to reason." While terrorists target
the innocent, our nation takes great pains to limit damage and to avoid
continued, "The terrorists who threaten America cannot be appeased -- they
must be found, they must be fought, and they must be defeated."
is exactly what we're doing -- at the Department of Homeland Security where
I just finished helping Secretary Ridge establish the new Cabinet-level
department, to the decks of the USS Enterprise and USS Peleliu in the
waters today near the Persian Gulf -- we are fighting around the world,
around the clock, on sea and on land, seeking out the terrorists wherever
they may hide.
Navy has always been a global force. John Paul Jones took the fight to
the coast of Britain during the Revolutionary War. Commodore Preble led
a squadron to the Mediterranean a few years later to quell pirates -- the
terrorists of that time.
War II, our Navy sought out the enemy in the Atlantic and Pacific. Throughout
the Cold War, naval forces maintained a forward presence that kept the
expansion of communism in check. This heritage continues today.
has progressed from sail to steam, from cannonballs to cruise missiles,
from battleships to carriers, from signal flags to information technology.
In so doing, we have extended the reach and influence of the United States
Navy from the high seas to the far corners of Earth. But one enduring
quality has not changed -- our people.
For the past
228 years, the strength of our Navy is our people and our leadership.
People and leadership have been, are and always will be the backbone and
enduring strength of our Navy and our great nation.
was swift in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, this
is not THE war. These were great victories and important battles -- a crucial
phase in the war against terrorism. But these battles are more like Korea.
a terrible, bloody battle of a much longer war against communism -- a war
that lasted until the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 almost 40 years later.
Like Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq are unfortunately likely closer to the
beginning of the war against terrorism than the end.
heard many stories of heroism on 9-11, but let me tell you another story
of courage on 9-11 ╔ but this 9-11 was in 1776.
United States had declared independence just two months earlier. Our courageous
founding fathers knew they must hang together or they would certainly
Army had routed our army and occupied Manhattan Island. Lord Howe, commander
of the king's forces, called for a meeting with American officials to
offer a truce -- a truce with one small catch: The Americans had only to
surrender their quest for freedom.
Ben Franklin and Edward Rutledge traveled from Pennsylvania to meet with
Lord Howe in New York. Surrounded by hundreds of Royal Navy ships and
thousands of British soldiers, these patriots did not falter. They stood
tall for freedom and liberty. They refused Lord Howe's terms. They knew
that this cause of freedom was the foundation for a new nation and a beacon
for the world. America was determined, and we struggled, we won and we
flourished. We became a symbol of hope for people everywhere.
later others came to attack New York, the Pentagon and what has become
a hallowed field in Pennsylvania. These terrorists also thought they could
intimidate America and force us to give up our quest for liberty for all
people around the world. They failed. Like our forefathers, we will not
be intimidated, and we will stamp out terrorism -- for our children, grandchildren
and their families.
been a symbol of hope for the world from our founding. We still are today.
doesn't fight for land. We don't fight for money; and we won't fight simply
to impose our will.
But we do
take up arms to secure this country and defeat evil when it threatens
our lives and our liberty. We do fight for freedom, and we will finish
the job once started.
as we come together, military and civilians alike, to celebrate the heritage
and core values that for 228 years have been the foundation of the United
States Navy, I leave you with two words. Never forget.
the horrific events of 9-11.
that our nation depends on our men and women in uniform to preserve liberty
and freedom throughout the world.
that for 228 years our Navy has carried the torch of freedom around the
world, and that tradition continues today.
each of you who serve our nation. I am proud to serve with you. Happy
very much, and God bless America.
England was first appointed secretary of the Navy in May 2001. In January
2003, he was asked to serve as deputy secretary in the newly established
Department of Homeland Security. In October this year, he returned to
his position as naval secretary following the unexpected death of Colin
McMillan. England is a long-time Fort Worth businessman and community
leader who was president of General Dynamics, later Lockheed Aircraft
Co., and later executive vice president at General Dynamics.