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Public Papers - 1992

Remarks at a Wreath-Laying Ceremony at the United States Navy Memorial

1992-12-07

Please be seated. May I say to Admiral Thompson, it's a great pleasure to be with you, sir, on this sunny day; Secretary of the Navy Sean O'Keefe; Admiral Frank Kelso; and Admiral Howell. And Captain Bill Perry, thank you, sir, for the invocation. And thank all of you for attending.

Let me say at the very beginning, I am proud to have served in the United States Navy. And I am very proud of those who are serving in the United States Navy, each and every single one of them.

Today we remember the servicemen, the brave and the innocent, who gave their lives to keep us free. The men we honor served a noble cause and made America forever proud. War embodies man's inhumanity to man. And these heroes mirrored man's fidelity to honor.

The men of Pearl Harbor knew the things worth living for were also worth dying for: principle, decency, liberty, truth. So it is in their honor that the two new ships will join the fleet. The first, a new destroyer, will be named U.S.S. Ross for Captain Donald Ross, hero and Medal of Honor winner at Pearl Harbor. I met Don Ross at the memorial service commemorating the 50th anniversary of Pearl Harbor just last December. He passed away in May of this year, but the destroyer Ross, U.S.S. Ross, will pay tribute to Captain Ross in a way that will always live.

The second ship is in a sense named for all who fought at Pearl Harbor, indeed for the entire generation of young men and women who entered the service inspired by the heroism of that day. To commemorate the sacrifice and honor of every sailor, marine, soldier, and airman who fought so valiantly on the 7th day of December in 1941, we will be naming amphibious dock landing ship 52, the U.S.S. Pearl Harbor.

On that long ago day of infamy, brave boys became men, and brave men became heroes. And in that spirit, let this wreath that I place at the foot of the memorial serve as a symbol of our gratitude and respect. We can never properly repay these men. What we can and must do is honor them, remember them. Remember, too, the lesson we learned at Pearl Harbor, that America will always stand fast so that human liberty can stand tall.

May God bless all the service people and their families, particularly those who are serving overseas at this minute and those who have served and those who are serving both at home and abroad. And may God bless this great country, the United States of America. Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 3:02 p.m. at the U.S. Navy Memorial. In his remarks, he referred to Rear Adm. William Thompson, USN (Ret.), president, U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation; Adm. Frank B. Kelso II, USN, Chief of Naval Operations; Rear Adm. Paul N. Howell, USNR (Ret.), chairman, U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation; and Capt. Bill Perry, U.S. Navy District Chaplain.

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