Good Morning! Is that the best you can do? I said good morning!
That’s better. What a beautiful setting for this. And its great to be back. I earned a Masters in Legislative Affairs from George Washington University so this is special for me.
President Wrighton, President Garvey, Provost Bracey, Vice Admiral Williams, and Captain Meyers, thanks for inviting me to join you on this special day.
I also thank the many senior Navy and Marine Corps leaders who have joined us.
Let me extend a special warm welcome and thank you to the families here today.
Thank you for molding such fine young women and men into patriots ready to serve their country.
You have instilled in them the core values they will need to succeed as Sailors, Marines, and lifelong community leaders.
Among these values are discipline, skill, passion, and commitment.
When your son or daughter, sister or brother, takes that oath today, you should feel proud of them.
But you should also be proud of yourselves. And our Nation is proud of you all.
Finally, let me thank the rising Second Lieutenants and Ensigns for your decision to serve our country.
Soon, you will be entrusted with the responsibility to lead Sailors and Marines.
You will be called upon to make hard decisions, to demonstrate leadership, and to think strategically.
Above all, you will become part of something far greater than yourselves.
The moment you take your oath, you will become a link in the sacred chain of service.
It is a chain that has protected this nation, and unified our spirit, since the earliest days of the republic.
I took my oath nearly 40 years ago, and it remains among the best decisions of my life.
I could not imagine the challenges and opportunities that would lay in front of me.
My earliest duty stations put many tools in my leadership kit, ones that I rely upon to this day.
I learned the importance of listening to my people, particularly my non-commissioned officers.
You must do the same. Be humble and inquisitive, always ready to learn, and willing to listen.
Give your people the opportunity and motivation to share their ideas and concerns.
They’ll let you know about problems, and solutions, long before you discover them for yourself.
You must lead with empathy. Look out for your people, and their families.
Speak up if you see them facing quality of life or career challenges. Make sure they get the care they need – including mental health care.
That applies to each of you, as well. Seeking out care for your mental health is a sign of strength, maturity, and leading by example.
Leading by example also means speaking up in the face of destructive behaviors like racism, sexism, and homophobia.
Everyday disrespects, like derogatory nicknames and insulting jokes, can have major consequences.
Studies have proven that organizations which tolerate sexual harassment have an increased risk for sexual assault.
It is your job to speak up. It is your responsibility to take action. Be a leader, not a bystander.
Leadership is the primary currency of military life. It is at the heart of all that we do.
You must lead with integrity in every aspect of your service, whether anyone is looking or not.
Build your team on a common vision, and unity of purpose – just as you’ve done right here in this unit.
You come from across the country, from different races, religions, orientations, and genders.
You are Bisons. Cardinals. Colonials. And Hoyas.
But as of today, you are all Naval Officers.
President Jefferson, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, set the precedent that our officer corps does not belong to one party or viewpoint.
America is stronger when we serve as one.
That’s why one of my highest priorities as Secretary of the Navy is to foster a culture of warfighting excellence, founded on strong leadership, dignity, and respect for each other.
To protect our Nation and the values we hold dear, we must recruit, retain, equip, and promote the best of all of America.
We need a diverse Navy and Marine Corps today, so every child in America can see themselves wearing the uniform tomorrow.
This weekend, I had the honor of commissioning a ship named for Lieutenant General Frank Petersen.
He was the first African American Marine Aviator – and the first African American General.
He persevered in the face of discrimination, blazing a trail for others to follow, and served with distinction in the skies over Korea and Vietnam.
He served our nation for 38 years, and helped transform our Marine Corps, always taking the time to mentor the generations who followed.
He was also, I should add, a graduate of George Washington University.
The principal speaker at this ceremony was Carlos Campbell, an African American Naval Aviator, and a former Assistant Secretary of Commerce.
And he is a graduate of Catholic University!
You have many great leaders to follow, and many great examples to emulate.
But don’t just follow in their footsteps.
Create your own journeys, and fulfill your destiny as the best and the brightest that the Navy and Marine Corps have to offer.
When I took the oath in 1983, Secretary of the Navy John Lehman told us, “Work within the Navy system, but don't give away your essential self, your individuality, your daring."
I remember shaking the Secretary’s hand, but I couldn’t have known what was going through his mind.
Now, I think I do. I think he felt immense pride, knowing he was handing off a sacred legacy to the next generation of Navy and Marine Corps leaders.
Officers who stood where you stand today have gone on to become Admirals, Generals, and battle tested veterans.
The legacy you join includes national leaders, and extraordinary members of the civilian community.
Every one of them stepped forward and took the same oath.
Every one of them was in some way or other tested against that oath. As you will surely be as well.
Always live up to your commitment.
Remember what brought you here, and who brought you here, because that will determine everything about where you go from here.
So congratulations to the class of 2022, and to your families. Welcome to the force and the fleet! Thank you.
Carlos Del Toro
16 May 2022
17 May 2022
Subject specific information for the media
Events or announcements of note for the media
Official Navy statements
Updates on sailors from around the Fleet
HASC, SASC and Congressional testimony
Google Translation Disclaimer