Navy Speakers' Bureau

The Art of Speech writing.... COMNAVRESFOR style!

 

By Patrick McMeel, 2003

Note after 17 years as Speechwriter for Commander, Naval Reserve Forces, John "Patrick" McMeel retired 31 July 2003 - he passed on this advise and sample speeches.

"Before I take General MacArthur’s advice and fade away…I thought I’d pass this on to all of you who may find yourselves designated to write a speech..... Call it my legacy.

I have enjoyed being a part of the PAO community over the years as a SELRES and as a civilian. This community is, without doubt, blessed with some of the finest public relations, advertising and media professionals with whom I have ever been associated. It’s been a fun trip down that yellow brick road.

I am proud to have been a part of it all.

Patrick McMeel"


When wearing your speech writer's hat you answer to only one person.....COMNAVRESFOR (or the person you are writing the speech for.)

The relationship between the speechwriter and the one who is to give the speech can have no one in-between. This is an inviolate. He will be telling you what he wants directly...not the Chief of Staff, not the PAO. You will be communicating directly with him via phone or email with questions or clarifications as you draft the speech. (At least this is the way it should work). It is always good karma, however, to copy your boss and even ask for input before submitting the first draft. This can be very helpful, but it is your decision to use or not to use that help based on what you and the admiral have discussed. After all, YOU are the one responsible to him for that draft.

Very important.....Good speech writing is not good English. It was never intended to be. (This drives English professors nuts!) We love using sentence fragments, one word paragraphs, etc, etc. Good speech writers write for the SPOKEN WORD, the associated THOUGHT a single word or phrase that gets the point across. No semi-colons need apply. KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID (KISS). That means simple English, one or two-syllable words if possible, short sentences.

If it is possible to express a point in three short sentences instead of one long one with big words....DO IT. PLEASE DO IT. The longer the sentence, the more difficult it is for the speaker to SPEAK it. And God help you if your speaker gets up before a crowd of VIPs (and he hasn't practiced it just a little) and starts to stumble and stutter because the words just don't come out right.....guess who is going to get the blame. It ain't him!

The litmus test....after you draft your speech, find a quiet place and say it ALOUD as if you are before a group of people. If you can SPEAK your draft COMFORTABLY, NATURALLY, the way you would speak to someone next to you....then you are probably on course. By SPEAKING it ALOUD you will quickly find out if your sentences need shortening every further.

Also, when printing your draft or final version, use 18pt type face or even 20pt. All caps AND BOLDFACE. Double space of course. This will make it much easier for your speaker to see at the lecturn.

One final point or two. Anonymity is the speechwriter's best friend. VADM Totushek hit the nail on the head when he told a group one day that his speechwriter (me) had the "worst job in the Navy. He does all the work and I get all the praise." You will never become a household word, but you will be appreciated by one....and that's the one the counts.

If you are looking for fame...stay the hell away from this job.

With these pearls of wisdom, I will now leave you with some examples you can use on down the road. Chances are most of your speech requirements will center on Changes of Command, Retirements, Veterans Day/Independence Day type speeches and an occasional "specialty" speech.

Another worthy tip.....KEEP YOUR SPEECHES INSIDE OF 10 MINUTES......Five to eight minutes are best...that's a long time for most people to speak and for others to listen to with respectful attention.

THE CHANGE OF COMMAND SPEECH

Two examples:

1. Generic/Meaning of COC
2. Combination COC/Retirement
The Change of Command speech should be relatively short, and usually concludes with the presentation of an award to the departing commanding officer. Sometimes, the change of command also marks the RETIREMENT of the departing officer. Following are examples of each which have been used successfully.

Examples of Generic Special Events Speeches you can use for nearly any occasion.

MEMORIAL DAY/JULY 4TH/VETERANS DAY, ETC. | A LESSON REMEMBERED | REUNION | THE SULLIVANS


"Change of Command ...examples"

EXAMPLE ONE: GENERIC

AMENITIES

A NOTED ENGLISH PHILOSOPHER ONE SAID, "THE ART OF PROGRESS IS TO PRESERVE ORDER AMID CHANGE AND TO PRESERVE CHANGE AMID ORDER."

SUCCINCTLY STATED, THAT IS WHAT THIS CEREMONY HIGHLIGHTS.

COMMAND IS THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENT IN OUR NAVAL ORGANIZATION. NO OTHER ELEMENT...FUNCTION...IS MORE MEANINGFUL. OUR NAVY'S SUCCESS IS TOTALLY DEPENDENT UPON THE QUALITY OF OUR LEADERS...THOSE IN POSITIONS OF COMMAND AUTHORITY...OFFICERS OR ENLISTED. WHEN THAT POSITION OF COMMAND IS AS THE COMMANDING OFFICER, RESPONSIBILITY, AUTHORITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY BECOME ABSOLUTES.

COMMAND IS THE SIGNAL ACHIEVEMENT OF AN OFFICER'S CAREER. IT IS THE ULTIMATE VOTE OF CONFIDENCE BY ONE'S SUPERIOR OFFICERS. IT IS A JOB OF IMMENSE PERSONAL SATISFACTION....AND UNRELENTING PRESSURE. EVERY SUCCESSFUL COMMANDING OFFICER MUST FULLY UNDERSTAND THE RESPONSIBILITY, AUTHORITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY THAT GOES WITH THE JOB. IT IS THE TRIAD OF COMMAND...THE GOVERNING STANDARDS WHICH MUST BE MET.

ONE OF OUR PAST PRESIDENTS, HARRY TRUMAN, LIVED BY THE AXIOM THAT "THE BUCK STOPS HERE." HE WAS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. AS COMMANDING OFFICER, YOU ARE THE TOP OF THE LADDER. HOW AN OFFICER HANDLES THE TRIAD AND THE PRESSURE OF COMMAND REFLECTS THE CHARACTER OF ALL WHO SERVE IN THAT COMMAND...AND IN A LARGER SENSE...OUR NAVY.

OUR NAVY TODAY, THE NAVAL RESERVE FORCE, IS THE BEST WE'VE EVER HAD. WE ARE BETTER EDUCATED AS A WHOLE, WE ARE BETTER TRAINED, WE ARE READY AND WE PROVE IT EVERY DAY AS PART OF THE OPERATIONAL MISSION OF THE FLEET COMMANDERS. WE PROVED IT BEYOND ALL DOUBT BY OUR PROFESSIONALISM IN THE RECALL AND AUGMENTATION OF MORE THAN 20,000 TO THE FLEET DURING OPERATION DESERT STORM. ON A MUCH SMALLER SCALE WE PROVE IT EVERY DAY SOMEWHERE IN THE WORLD IN DAILY FLEET SUPPORT.

THAT SUCCESS IS SHAPED ON THE DRILL DECK AT NAVAL RESERVE AIR AND SURFACE FACILITIES THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY. THAT'S WHY WE PLACE SO MUCH EMPHASIS ON SELECTING THE RIGHT OFFICER TO COMMAND.

(OUTGOING COMMANDER) IS AN EXCELLENT EXAMPLE OF THE KIND OF LEADERSHIP WE HAVE TODAY, AND THE KIND WE WILL NEED AS WE ENTER THESE UNPREDICTABLE LAST FEW YEARS OF THE 20TH CENTURY. (HE/SHE) HAS HANDLED THE PRESSURES OF COMMAND AT (COMMAND NAME) VERY WELL. IN THE PROCESS (HE/SHE) HAS HELPED FORGE AN EVEN STRONGER BOND OF TOTAL FORCE UNITY AND CAPABILITY.

(RON, BOB, DICK JANE, ETC.) I CONGRATULATE YOU FOR THE EXCELLENT JOB YOU HAVE DONE HERE. YOU CAN BE PROUD.

OBVIOUSLY, WHEN ONE COMMANDER LEAVES, ANOTHER MUST BE CHOSEN TO TAKE OVER. THAT IS A CHOICE NOT EASILY MADE. COMMAND DOESN'T COME AUTOMATICALLY TO AN EXECUTIVE OFFICER. YOU DON'T GET THIS JOB BY SENIORITY BUT BY A PROVEN RECORD OF EXCELLENCE. SUCH IS THE CASE OF YOUR NEW COMMANDING OFFICER ___________________. (DICK, JANE, ETC.) I WELCOME YOU, (SPOUSE'S NAME) AND YOUR FAMILY TO THIS COMMAND AND LOOK FORWARD TO WORKING WITH YOU.

(OUTGOING COMMANDER) AS YOU TAKE YOUR LEAVE OF THIS COMMAND, TAKE WITH YOU MY APPRECIATION FOR A JOB VERY WELL DONE. BEFORE YOU GET AWAY FROM HERE, I WOULD LIKE TO MORE "OFFICIALLY" RECOGNIZE YOUR EFFORTS....PLEASE JOIN ME AT THE PODIUM.

(AWARD PRESENTATION IF ANY)


EXAMPLE TWO: COMBINATION COC & RETIREMENT

AMENITIES

IT IS AN HONOR AND A PERSONAL PRIVILEGE FOR ME TO BE HERE AS A PARTICIPANT IN THIS CEREMONY. THIS IS ONE OF THOSE UNIQUE TIMES WHEN WE WITNESS NOT ONLY THE CHANGE OF COMMAND BETWEEN TWO FINE NAVAL OFFICERS, BUT ALSO THE RETIREMENT OF ONE WHO HAS SERVED HIS NAVY AND HIS COUNTRY EXTREMELY WELL FOR MORE THAN ____________ YEARS.

THERE IS A FAMOUS PAINTING OF THE SIGNING OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE HANGING IN THE WHITE HOUSE. IT IS UNUSUAL IN THAT...FOR SOME REASON...THE ARTIST NEVER FINISHED IT. MANY OF THE FIGURES IN THE BACKGROUND ARE ONLY SKETCHED IN. IT BRINGS TO MIND A PROFOUND TRUTH...PERHAPS THE PAINTING IS NOT FINISHED BECAUSE THE FIGHT FOR INDEPENDENCE IS NOT FINISHED...NOR WILL IT EVER BE.

DOCTOR BENJAMIN FRANKLIN IS REPORTED TO HAVE TOLD A FRIEND SHORTLY AFTER SIGNING THE DOCUMENT, "TODAY WE HAVE MADE OF THIS NEW COUNTRY OF OURS...A REPUBLIC."

THEN, NOT REALLY AS AN AFTERTHOUGHT, HE ADDED..."IF WE CAN KEEP IT."

TODAY, WE ARE DOING JUST THAT. THIS CEREMONY, THE CHANGE OF COMMAND, CONTINUES A TRADITION ESTABLISHED LONG AGO BY MEN WHO SERVED THEIR NATION AT SEA. IN CONTINUANCE, WE NOT ONLY PAY HOMAGE TO WHAT HAS BEEN, BUT FOR WHAT IS TO COME. IT IS THE NAVY WAY OF PASSING AWESOME RESPONSIBILITIES AND AUTHORITY INTO THE HANDS OF A SINGLE OFFICER.

WITH THAT PLACEMENT GOES ABSOLUTE POWER AND ACCOUNTABILITY. HOW THE OFFICER RESPONDS NOT ONLY AFFECTS THOSE WITHIN THAT AUTHORITY, BUT ULTIMATELY THE CAPABILITIES OF OUR NAVY. THIS IS PARTICULARLY TRUE IN TODAY'S ENVIRONMENT AS OUR NAVAL RESERVE IS MORE ACTIVELY INVOLVED THAN EVER BEFORE IN SUPPORTING THE FLEET. HOW WELL WE DO THAT JOB VERY MUCH DEPENDS ON EACH READINESS COMMAND, EACH READINESS CENTER, EACH RESERVE CENTER AND EVERY INDIVIDUAL WHO WEARS THE UNIFORM.

THE TWO OFFICERS WE HONOR TODAY, (OUTGOING COMMANDER), AND (INCOMING COMMANDER) ARE PROVEN LEADERS. THEIR RECORDS SHOW QUITE CLEARLY EACH HAS MET THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF COMMAND AND HAVE ACCOUNTED VERY WELL FOR THEMSELVES.

______________HAS NOW REACHED THAT POINT IN HIS/HER NAVAL CAREER WE ALL WORK TOWARD. HE TURNS OVER HIS LAST COMMAND. HE LEAVES BEHIND A LEGACY OF SERVICE, DEDICATION AND SUCCESS FEW CAN EQUAL. BUT, HE CAN NEVER LEAVE BEHIND HIS LOVE OF GOD AND COUNTRY, OR HIS BELIEF IN LIBERTY AND HUMAN RIGHTS.

AS COMMANDER OF (NAME THE COMMAND), (OUTGOING COMMANDER) HAS CONTINUED TO DEMONSTRATE THE CAPABILITIES OF LEADERSHIP AND COMMAND SOME OFFICERS JUST SEEM TO BE BORN WITH. THIS IMPORTANT COMMAND OF MORE THAN ________ NAVAL RESERVISTS HAS BEEN BROUGHT TO A STATE OF READINESS WHICH RANKS IT AMONG THE TOP IN THE NATION.

SUCH SUCCESS DOES NOT SURPRISE ME. (OUTGOING COMMANDER'S) ENTIRE CAREER, BEGINNING WITH (FIRST ASSIGNMENT, ENLISTMENT, COMMISSIONING, ETC.) HAS BEEN FUELED BY THE DESIRE TO DO THE BEST THAT HE COULD DO...AND WITH HONOR, AND INTEGRITY. HE HAS SUCCEEDED. IN THE PROCESS HE HAS FORGED A REPUTATION OF PROFESSIONALISM, ACHIEVEMENT AND EXCELLENCE.

(NAME), I KNOW (SPOUSE'S NAME) AND YOUR FAMILY SHARE IN YOUR PRIDE, AND WELL THEY SHOULD. NO CAREER OFFICER CAN EFFECTIVELY DO THE THINGS THEY MUST DO WITHOUT THE SUPPORT OF THEIR FAMILY BEHIND THEM. TO ALL OF YOU... I DEEPLY APPRECIATE YOUR SPLENDID SERVICE AND DEDICATION TO OUR NAVY AND TO OUR COUNTRY.

(INCOMING COMMANDER), YOU HAVE SOME BIG SHOES TO FILL. THE JOB IS NOW YOURS. I HAVE NO DOUBT YOU WILL CONTINUE TO TAKE (COMMAND) TO EVEN GREATER HEIGHTS AND FURTHER ACHIEVEMENTS. YOUR SELECTION WAS NO ACCIDENT. I WELCOME YOU, (SPOUSE AND CHILDREN) TO YOUR NEW COMMAND. I LOOK FORWARD TO WORKING WITH YOU IN THIS NEW ASSIGNMENT.

(RETIRING OFFICER), PLEASE JOIN ME AT THE PODIUM....

(AWARD PRESENTATION)


"Special Events...examples"


MEMORIAL DAY/JULY 4TH/VETERANS DAY, ETC.

AMENITIES

IT IS AN HONOR TO BE HERE AND TO SHARE WITH YOU MY THOUGHTS ON THIS (Memorial Day, etc.). AS USUAL, THE (Name of hosting Organization) OF (City) HAS DONE AN EXCELLENT JOB OF PUTTING THIS CEREMONY TOGETHER. SUCH LABORS OF LOVE USUALLY DO COME OFF VERY WELL.

ON SUCH OCCASIONS IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO PUT INTO WORDS THE THOUGHTS AND EMOTIONS WE FEEL. WE REMEMBER...AS WE HONOR OUR MEN AND WOMEN IN UNIFORM TODAY...THAT THEIR PATRIOTISM CARRIES A HIGH PRICE. FREEDOM IS NOT FREE. IT MUST BE FOUGHT FOR TO ACHIEVE, AND FOUGHT FOR TO KEEP. MANY HAVE PAID THE ULTIMATE PRICE...AND HISTORY WOULD SEEM TO INDICATE THAT MANY MORE WILL.

WE KNOW, AS WE HONOR THOSE WHO HAVE DIED IN THE SERVICE OF OUR COUNTRY, THAT THEY NO LONGER HEAR OUR WORDS. THEY DO NOT FEEL THE PRIDE THAT WELLS IN OUR HEARTS NOR COMPREHEND THE HONOR WE BESTOW ON THEM FOR THEIR SACRIFICE. YET...SOMETHING COMPELS US TO ACT AS IF THEY DID UNDERSTAND.

I THINK THAT SOMETHING IS THAT WE WANT TO REMEMBER. WE NEED TO REMEMBER. WE WANT THOSE WHO FOLLOW AFTER TO UNDERSTAND THAT THE FREEDOMS THEY ENJOY MUST NEVER BE TAKEN FOR GRANTED.

OUR FALLEN HEROES...AND THEY ARE HEROES EVERY ONE...HAVE DONE THEIR DUTY. THEY HAVE LEFT FOR US THE LEGACY TO DO OURS WITH NO LESS PASSION OR COMMITMENT.

THIS IS THE CHALLENGE WE FACE...THE CHALLENGE TO MAKE SURE WE HONOR THEIR SACRIFICE AND TO SAFEGUARD AND PASS ON TO OUR CHILDREN THE SAME LIBERTIES THAT WERE PRESERVED FOR US. WE MUST KEEP THE FAITH IN GOD AND COUNTRY AND...IF NECESSARY...FIGHT TO KEEP IT SO.

TO DO ANYTHING LESS WOULD BE TO DISHONOR ALL THAT WE HOLD DEAR...ALL THAT AMERICA STANDS FOR.

AMERICA DOESN'T HAVE A GREAT MILITARY FORCE TO FIGHT WARS...BUT TO PRESERVE AND PROTECT OUR CONSTITUTIONAL LIBERTIES. WE MUST DO THIS THROUGH PEACE...IF WE HAVE THE CHOICE...BY FORCE OF ARMS IF WE HAVE NOT THE CHOICE...AND WITH THE STRENGTH AND MORAL MATURITY TO DO EITHER.

A MARINE CORPS GENERAL AND HISTORIAN ONCE POINTED OUT THAT, "THE PAGES OF HISTORY ARE LITTERED WITH THE WRECKAGE OF GREAT CIVILIZATIONS WHICH, IN THEIR HOUR OF GLORY, FORGOT THEIR DEPENDENCE ON THE SEA."

HISTORY ALSO HAS SHOWN US THAT THE BATTLE FOR INDEPENDENCE IS NEVER A FIGHT TOTALLY WON...NEVER A VICTORY TO BE FORGOTTEN. THERE WILL ALWAYS BE OTHERS TO CHALLENGE THE IDEA AND THE IDEALS OF FREEDOM. THERE WILL ALWAYS BE THE NEED FOR A NATION SUCH AS OURS TO SEND OUR BEST YOUNG WARRIORS INTO HARM'S WAY. THERE WILL ALWAYS BE THE NEED TO REMAIN VIGILANT. AND...IF WE MUST PAY THE PRICE AGAIN...LET NO ONE OR ANY NATION FAIL TO UNDERSTAND THAT WE WILL PAY THAT PRICE AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN.

TO THIS END WE HAVE OUR MEMORIAL DAYS, OUR VETERANS DAYS, OUR FOURTH OF JULYS, OUR MONUMENTS AND OUR MEMORIES. TO THIS END WE HAVE OUR NAVY, ARMY, AIR FORCE, COAST GUARD AND RESERVE FORCES TO BACK IT ALL UP. TO THIS END WE PROUDLY PLEDGE OUR ALLEGIANCE AS A NATION OF PEOPLE DETERMINED NEVER TO FORGET FROM WHENCE WE CAME. TO THIS END WE REMEMBER WITH CEREMONIES SUCH AS THIS AT MEMORIALS SUCH AS THIS ETCHED WITH THE NAMES AND DEEDS OF HEROES.

IF I HAD ONE WISH IT WOULD BE THAT NEVER AGAIN...EVER...UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE, WOULD IT BE NECESSARY TO CHISEL ANOTHER NAME IN STONE.

GOD BLESS AMERICA!


A LESSON REMEMBERED


AMENITIES

I AM VERY HONORED TO BE HERE AND TO SHARE WITH YOU MY THOUGHTS ON THIS PEARL HARBOR MEMORIAL DAY.

ON SUCH OCCASIONS IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO PUT INTO WORDS THE THOUGHTS AND EMOTIONS WE FEEL.

WE KNOW, AS WE REMEMBER THAT FATEFUL DAY IN HAWAII 48 YEARS AGO, THAT THOSE WHO DIED DURING THAT ATTACK DID NOT DO SO IN VAIN. WE KNOW THAT THIS GREAT COUNTRY OF OURS CAME OFF THE DECK FIGHTING MAD. WE WERE DETERMINED THAT PEARL HARBOR WOULD BE AVENGED AND THAT A LESSON WOULD BE TAUGHT, NOT ONLY TO JAPAN, BUT TO ALL NATIONS WHICH SOUGHT TO MAKE WAR AGAINST AMERICA AND THE IDEALS FOR WHICH SHE STOOD...AND STANDS TODAY.

IT WAS A LESSON LEARNED. BUT, IS IT A LESSON REMEMBERED?

IT IS TRUE THAT THERE HAS BEEN NO REPEAT OF THE GREAT WORLD WAR THAT STARTED FOR US THAT DECEMBER DAY. YET...WE STILL HAVE LOST OVER 100,000 YOUNG AMERICAN MEN AND WOMEN IN UNIFORM SINCE THAT WAR ENDED. WE LOST THEM IN KOREA, IN VIETNAM, IN BEIRUT, AND CENTRAL AMERICA. WE HAVE SEEN THEIR BROKEN BODIES THROWN FROM AIRPLANES ONTO THE GROUND AND PHOTOGRAPHS OF THEM AFTER THEY WERE HANGED. WE HAVE LOST THEM ON ALL THE OCEANS OF THE WORLD WHERE THEY SAIL IN DEFENSE OF FREEDOM AND IN THE SERVICE OF THEIR COUNTRY.

YET...STILL IT SEEMS THAT THE LESSON OF PEARL HARBOR TENDS TO BE FORGOTTEN IN TIMES OF PEACE. THERE ARE MANY WHO DON'T SEEM TO UNDERSTAND THAT THEY ENJOY THAT PEACE BECAUSE AMERICA HAS BEEN STRONG ENOUGH TO MAINTAIN IT.

MANY OF YOU HERE TODAY REMEMBER PEARL HARBOR. IT IS NOT JUST A FACT OF HISTORY IN A BOOK...BUT REAL AND A PART OF YOUR LIFE FOREVER. AND, I AM WILLING TO BET THAT YOU REMEMBER WHERE YOU WERE AND WHAT YOU WERE DOING WHEN THE NEWS FIRST BROKE.

IT IS REPORTED THAT ADMIRAL YAMAMOTO, ONE OF THE HIGHEST RANKING JAPANESE NAVAL OFFICERS OF THAT TIME, SAID..."I FEAR WE HAVE AWAKENED A SLEEPING GIANT...AND THAT IT WILL DESTROY US."

HE WAS RIGHT. BUT, TO PUT THINGS INTO PERSPECTIVE...WE WERE LUCKY. IN 1941 WE HAD THE TIME TO GET OUR ACT TOGETHER, RALLY THE NATION, AND GET OUR MASS PRODUCTION CAPABILITIES INTO HIGH GEAR. GOD FORBID THERE IS ANOTHER SUCH WAR. BUT, IF THERE IS, THERE WON'T BE TIME DO WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE IF WE HAVE NOT ALREADY PREPARED FOR IT. SUCH AN IMPORTANT THING AS LIBERTY SHOULD NEVER BE LEFT TO CHANCE.

IF ONE LESSON COMES OUT OF THE CARNAGE OF PEARL HARBOR IT IS THAT WE MUST ALWAYS BE PREPARED.

WE NEED TO REMEMBER PEARL HARBOR. WE WANT THOSE WHO FOLLOW TO REMEMBER, AND TO UNDERSTAND THAT THE FREEDOMS THEY ENJOY CARRIED A HIGH PRICE.

THIS IS THE REAL CHALLENGE WE FACE TODAY...THE CHALLENGE TO MAKE SURE WE HONOR THEIR COMMITMENT WITH NO LESS PASSION OR DETERMINATION. WE NEED TO PASS ON TO OUR CHILDREN, AS YOU HAVE DONE, THE SAME LIBERTIES THAT WERE PRESERVED FOR US. WE NEED TO KEEP FAITH IN GOD AND COUNTRY AND, IF NECESSARY, TO SHED BLOOD TO KEEP IT SO.

TO DO ANYTHING LESS WOULD BE TO DISHONOR ALL THAT WE HOLD DEAR IN THIS GREAT LAND OF OURS. WE DON'T ADVOCATE A STRONG MILITARY TO FIGHT WARS...BUT TO PREVENT THEM. AND IT MUST ALWAYS BE REMEMBERED THAT THE MOST IMPORTANT SOCIAL SERVICE A GOVERNMENT CAN PROVIDE FOR ITS PEOPLE IS TO KEEP THEM ALIVE AND FREE....THIS IS A JOB WHICH BECOMES MORE COMPLICATED EVERY DAY.

TODAY OUR NAVY SAILS WITH A GREAT DEGREE OF CERTAINTY THAT NO NAVY IS BETTER...THERE ARE LARGER NAVIES WITH MORE SHIPS...BUT NONE BETTER. WILL THIS BE THE CASE IN FIVE YEARS? POSSIBLY NOT!

WITHOUT PROPER MAINTENANCE, ALL THE PROGRESSES OUR NAVY HAS MADE THESE PAST NINE YEARS WILL NOT BE ENOUGH TO PROTECT OUR INTERESTS. WE ARE CONCERNED ABOUT THE TENDENCY IN THIS COUNTRY TO MEET A PROBLEM HEAD ON, TAKE CARE OF IT, THEN FORGET IT EVER EXISTED OR THAT IT WILL EVER BE A PROBLEM AGAIN. THIS KIND OF COMPLACENCY TOWARD OUR DEFENSE POSTURE...CAN BE DANGEROUS. YET WE ARE SEEING IT AGAIN.

WE ARE IN AN ERA WHEN OUR CONTINUED FREE ACCESS TO A LIMITED NUMBER OF OVERSEAS BASES IS PERIODICALLY CALLED INTO QUESTION...WHEN PROLIFERATION OF HIGH-TECH WEAPONS IN THE HANDS OF THIRD-WORLD COUNTRIES INCREASES THE LIKELIHOOD OF CONFLICT INVOLVING U.S. INTERESTS, AND WHEN THE AVAILABILITY OF OTHER U.S. FORCES MAY BE CONSTRAINED AS A RESULT OF POLITICAL FACTORS BEYOND OUR CONTROL. BECAUSE OF THESE FACTORS OUR GOALS ARE CLEAR. WE HAVE TO ENSURE THAT WE HAVE THE MEANS AND THE READINESS TO RESPOND TO ANY CHALLENGE ACROSS THE ENTIRE SPECTRUM OF CRISIS OR CONFLICT. YET...WE ARE SURROUNDED BY A GREAT BUDGET DEBATE OVER DEFENSE SPENDING. NEWSPAPERS AND BROADCASTS ARE FILLED WITH REPORTS ON THE COST OF THIS WEAPON SYSTEM OR THAT WEAPON SYSTEM AND DEFENSE AS A WHOLE.

THE FACT IS, AND MOST OF AMERICA DOESN'T REALIZE THIS, THE DEFENSE BUDGET TODAY IS LESS OF THE GROSS NATIONAL PRODUCT THAN IT WAS 10 YEARS AGO! IT IS NOT DEFENSE SPENDING DRIVING UP THE BUDGET BUT OTHER FEDERAL OUTLAY PROGRAMS WHICH ARE ON THE INCREASE SEVEN TIMES GREATER THAN DEFENSE. LET ME PUT THAT ANOTHER WAY....FOR EVERY ONE DOLLAR THAT OUR DEFENSE BUDGET HAS INCREASED TO PROVIDE OUR NATION'S SECURITY, OTHER FEDERALLY FUNDED PROGRAMS HAVE INCREASED BY SEVEN DOLLARS. I AM NOT SAYING SOME OF THESE PROGRAMS AREN'T NECESSARY...ONLY THAT DEFENSE SPENDING IS NOT THE CAUSE OF THE BUDGET DEFICIT, NOR WILL CUTTING DEFENSE SPENDING CURE THE DEFICIT. CUTTING DEFENSE WILL ONLY WEAKEN OUR NATION'S ABILITY TO PROTECT OUR GLOBAL INTERESTS AND ECONOMIC TIES.

MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT, IN SPITE OF THE WONDERFUL THINGS GOING ON IN EUROPE RIGHT NOW, THE SOVIET UNION IS NOT...I REPEAT...NOT CUTTING BACK IN ANY WAY ON ITS DEFENSE STRATEGY OF MODERNIZATION. WHAT IT IS DOING AWAY WITH ARE THOSE WEAPONS SYSTEMS THAT ARE OUTDATED AND OBSOLETE. THEY REMAIN VERY COMMITTED TO A STRONG AND FORWARD REACHING MILITARY PRESENCE.

SO, AS WE CONTEMPLATE THE SOLUTION OF AN EQUATION THAT MAY ONCE AGAIN REQUIRE US TO DO AS MUCH OR MORE AS WE HAVE DONE IN THE PAST...AND WITH LESS...WE MUST CONFRONT REALITY. WE CANNOT AFFORD TO LOSE SIGHT, NOR PERMIT OTHERS TO LOSE SIGHT, OF OUR COUNTRY'S NEED FOR A STRONG NAVY.

A RUSH TODAY TO DISMANTLE OUR NAVAL FORCES BECAUSE OF A PREMATURE OPTIMISM THAT THE THREAT OF WAR IS DIMINISHED COULD BE A MOST COSTLY MISREADING OF HISTORY. IT HAPPENED ONCE BEFORE.

THE PAGES OF HISTORY ARE LITTERED WITH THE WRECKAGE OF NATIONS WHICH, IN THEIR HOUR OF STRENGTH, FORGOT THEIR DEPENDENCY ON THE SEA.

WE LEARNED THAT LESSON ONCE ON DECEMBER 7, 1941. IT SHOULD BE A LESSON REMEMBERED.

THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS.


Remarks of RADM R.K. Chambers, Deputy COMNAVRESFOR, Battleship Mississippi Reunion, NOLA June 24, 1989

REUNION

AMENITIES

I AM VERY PLEASED AND HONORED TO BE HERE TONIGHT AND TO SHARE WITH YOU "SEA STORIES" OF DAYS GONE BY. I UNDERSTAND THAT SOME OF YOU HAVE COME FROM AS FAR AWAY AS CALIFORNIA FOR THIS 6TH ANNUAL MID-SOUTH "MIGHTY MISSY" REUNION. I CAN RELATE TO THAT.

I MAY WEAR WINGS ON MY CHEST, AND I KNOW WHAT YOU "SURFACE SAILORS" THINK OF US "FLY-BOYS,"

BUT WE ALL UNDERSTAND THE PRIDE OF SERVICE THAT COMES WITH WEARING THE UNIFORM OF THE UNITED STATES NAVY.

TRUTH IS, WE TOO FEEL TREMENDOUS PRIDE AT THE SIGHT OF A MODERN WARSHIP STEAMING INTO A PORT SOMEWHERE SHOWING THE FLAG TO THOSE WHO DON'T SEE OUR NAVY VERY OFTEN. AND, IF I DID HAVE TO SERVE AT SEA ON SOMETHING OTHER THAN AN AIRCRAFT CARRIER IT WOULD MOST CERTAINLY BE MY DESIRE TO BE A BATTLESHIP SAILOR.

YOU WHO SERVED SO WELL ON THE USS MISSISSIPPI ARE UNIQUE. YOU WERE CONSIDERED THAT, EVEN AS YOU SAILED IN HARM'S WAY IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC AND LATER AT SUCH HISTORIC PLACES AS MAKIN, KWAGALEIN, LEYTE GULF, LINGAYAN GULF AND THE MARIANAS.

YOU WERE YOUNG MEN ON AN "OLD" BATTLESHIP. YET, IT WAS UP TO YOU GUYS ALONG WITH THE TENNESSEE, PENNSYLVANIA, NEW MEXICO AND IDAHO, TO SHOW THE NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK LIKE THE NEW JERSEY HOW TO SHOOT.

REMEMBER HOW IT WAS THOSE DAYS IN 1943 OFF SAIPAN AND TINIAN?

YOU GAVE ADMIRAL OLDENDORF A LOT TO CROW ABOUT IN THE FLEET WARDROOM WITH HIS PEERS. YOU SAILED A BATTLESHIP 26 YEARS OLD AND FOUGHT HER LIKE AN IOWA-CLASS. IN SO DOING, YOU PAID THE PRICE ALL SAILORS PAY IN WARTIME. YOU LEFT MANY COMRADES BEHIND, BUT YOU TOOK THE MARIANAS AND IN TOKYO BAY, NOT FAR FROM ONE OF THOSE SHIPS YOU TAUGHT TO FIGHT, YOU WITNESSED A RETURN TO SANITY.

SUCH IS THE PRIDE OF THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN SHIP'S CREW ON THE MISSISSIPPI, BEFORE OR AFTER, THE DAYS OF WORLD WAR II.

IRONICALLY, YOUR LIFE ON BOARD THIS FINE OLD BATTLESHIP PARALLELS THE VERY HISTORY OF OUR NAVAL RESERVE FORCE. HISTORICALLY, NAVAL RESERVISTS HAVE ALWAYS HAD TO TRAIN AND MAINTAIN COMBAT EFFICIENCY ON "OLD" OR OUT-DATED EQUIPMENT. YET, NAVAL RESERVISTS, WHEN PUT TO THE TEST, SEEM ALWAYS ABLE TO MAKE THE MOST OF IT. IN THE LAST 10 YEARS THIS HAS CHANGED. THE NAVAL RESERVE AT LAST HAS REALLY BEEN GIVEN THE CHANCE TO SHOW WHAT IT CAN DO. AND, IT COULDN'T HAVE COME AT A BETTER TIME.

THERE ISN'T TIME THIS EVENING TO GIVE YOU THE WHOLE STORY, BUT OUR SUCCESS TODAY CAN BE DIRECTLY TRACED TO THE DEDICATION, SKILL, COURAGE AND PATRIOTISM OF NAVY MEN AND WOMEN JUST LIKE YOU WHO, IN BAD TIMES, PROVED THERE WAS NO BETTER NAVY IN THE WORLD.

TODAY, MAYBE THE COMMITMENT TO PATRIOTISM AND CITIZENSHIP IS A LITTLE LESS CLEAR TO MANY AMERICANS. LIFE IS GENERALLY GOOD. THAT MAKES IT EASY TO TAKE THIS GREAT NATION FOR GRANTED.

BUT, THERE IS ONE GROUP OF CITIZENS WHO PROVE DAILY THEIR LOVE OF COUNTRY. THESE SAME PEOPLE ARE JEALOUS OF HER HONOR...AND THEY PROVE IT THROUGH TIRELESS PERFORMANCE IN SOME OF THE MOST DIFFICULT SITUATIONS AND REMOTE AREAS. THESE ARE THE MEMBERS OF OUR ARMED FORCES. SAILORS STILL DIE TODAY IN THE SERVICE OF PEACE. THE RECENT TRAGEDY ON BOARD IOWA, I'M CERTAIN, BRINGS BACK MEMORIES TO A LOT OF YOU WHEN, OFF MAKIN, A SIMILAR ACCIDENT KILLED 43 OF YOUR SHIPMATES.

KEEPING AMERICA FREE CANNOT BE RESTRICTED TO JUST THE MILITARY. IT MUST BE A NATIONAL COMMITMENT. OUR FLAG DOESN'T JUST REPRESENT THOSE IN UNIFORM, BUT ALL AMERICANS AND OUR WAY OF LIFE. AS VETERANS OF WORLD WAR II AND KOREA YOU HAVE BEEN A PART OF THAT COMMITMENT IN ITS PUREST FORM.

I AM IN A UNIQUE POSITION. MY GENERATION AND MY CHILDREN'S GENERATION HAVE EXPERIENCED THE TURMOIL, THE CONFUSION, THE HURT OF VIETNAM AND A CURIOUS LACK OF PATRIOTISM AND NATIONAL PRIDE FOR THOSE WHO SERVED JUST AS VALIANTLY AS YOU HERE TONIGHT.

I HAVE SEEN THIS NATION'S YOUNG FIND ITSELF, REGROUP AND REKINDLE THAT FIRE YOU KNOW SO WELL. WHAT A DIFFERENCE THAT MAKES TO THOSE OF US WHO SERVE TODAY.

YOU CAN BE WELL PROUD OF OUR YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN TODAY. THEY SEEM GENUINELY CUT OF THE SAME CLOTH. THEY WORK HARD AND THEY STAND READY TO HONOR THE SACRIFICES MADE BY SO MANY TO KEEP AMERICA FREE. THEY ARE, TO BORROW A QUOTE FROM GENERAL LAFAYETTE WHO SAID IN 1825 WHILE TOURING AMERICA AFTER THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR..."SOLVING THE MAGNIFICENT PROBLEM OF LIBERTY."

THANK YOU FOR INVITING US HERE TONIGHT, WE ARE IN GOOD COMPANY.


DRAFT: For RADM Thomas F. Hall, USN, Veterans/Memorial Day speech tied, into story of the Sullivan brothers

THE SULLIVANS


AMENITIES

THROUGHOUT OUR NAVAL HISTORY WE HAVE HAD OUR HEROES. FOR ME, THE STORY OF THE SULLIVAN BROTHERS IS ONE I LIKE TO REMEMBER. THEIR STORY SYMBOLIZES THE INDOMITABLE SPIRIT OF THE AMERICAN BLUEJACKET. IT IS THE STORY OF FAMILY SACRIFICE AND ANSWERING THE CALL TO DUTY IN TIME OF WAR.

THE SULLIVANS WERE FIVE YOUNG MEN FROM WATERLOO, IOWA...JOSEPH, FRANCIS, ALBERT, MADISON AND GEORGE. THEY WERE INSEPARABLE AND IT CAME AS NO SURPRISE THAT...WHEN DUTY CALLED...THEY ALL LEFT HOME ONE DAY TO JOIN THE NAVY IN THE EARLY DAYS OF WORLD WAR II. THEY WANTED TO SERVE TOGETHER AND FIGHT TOGETHER...JUST AS THEY HAD LIVED, LOVED, AND FOUGHT TOGETHER. SO, AS A BODY OF ONE, THEY REQUESTED AND WERE ASSIGNED SEA DUTY ON THE SAME SHIP...THE SHIP THEY DREW WAS THE LIGHT CRUISER USS JUNEAU.

IN NOVEMBER OF 1943 THEY DIED TOGETHER...ON FRIDAY THE 13TH...WITH 700 SHIPMATES, IN THE WARM WATERS OF INDISPENSABLE STRAIT OFF AN ISLAND CALLED GUADALCANAL.

WE REMEMBER THEM NOW, NOT AS INDIVIDUALS PER SE, BUT AS ONE. BECAUSE OF WHO THEY WERE AND HOW THEY SERVED AND DIED, THEY ARE MORE OFTEN REMEMBERED AS "THE SULLIVANS," OR "THE FIGHTING SULLIVANS." BUT...THEIR NAMES, EACH OF THEM, ARE INDELIBLY ETCHED IN THE PAGES OF NAVAL HISTORY FOR EVER MORE.

IT IS NOT THAT THEY WERE MORE HEROIC OR COURAGEOUS THAN ANY OTHER SAILOR WHO HAS GONE TO SEA UNDER THE AMERICAN BATTLE FLAG THAT WE HONOR THEM. WHAT MAKES THEM UNIQUE IS THAT THEY WERE FIVE BROTHERS...ALL FROM ONE FAMILY...AND ALL LOST IN ONE TRAGIC, YET VERY HONORABLE MOMENT OF TIME.

THERE ARE RULES AND REGULATIONS TODAY WHICH PRECLUDE SO MANY FROM ONE FAMILY SERVING ON BOARD ONE SHIP LIKE THAT AGAIN. STILL...YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE...IF YOU KNEW THE SULLIVAN BOYS...THEY WOULD FIGHT TOGETHER YET AGAIN TO BREAK THOSE RULES AND REGULATIONS IN ORDER TO STAY TOGETHER AND WATCH OUTFOR EACH OTHER. THAT'S THE WAY THEY WERE.

THEY WERE A PART OF AMERICAN NAVAL HISTORY AT A TIME WHEN HEROES, COURAGE AND SACRIFICE WERE COMMON. EVEN THE EVENT WHICH LED TO THEIR DEATHS IS REMEMBERED AS A BRIGHT SHINING MOMENT IN AMERICAN NAVAL HISTORY.

IN 1943 OUR NAVY WAS IN THE PRECARIOUS POSITION OF HAVING TO FACE A JAPANESE NAVY FAR SUPERIOR IN NUMBERS OF SHIPS, GUNS AND EXPERIENCE. WE WERE FIGHTING FOR FOOT-HOLDS ON ISLANDS THE EMPIRE HAD HAD YEARS TO FORTIFY. ABOUT THE ONLY THING WE HAD GOING FOR US WAS OUR WILL AND OUR DETERMINATION TO HOLD ON UNTIL THE FULL WEIGHT OF AMERICAN MASS PRODUCTION COULD SWING THE BALANCE OF POWER TO OUR SIDE. IN THE MEANTIME, TENACITY...FIRED BY ANGER...AND DESPERATION...WERE POWERFUL MOTIVATORS.

AT THIS JUNCTURE OF THE WAR, MOST OF THE WORLD'S ATTENTION IN THE PACIFIC WAS CENTERED AROUND THE SOLOMON ISLANDS AND, IN PARTICULAR, ON ONE ISLAND IN THAT CHAIN...GUADALCANAL. IT WAS A MAJOR OBJECTIVE WE NEEDED TO SECURE IN ORDER TO PROCEED WITH OUR ISLAND HOPPING CAMPAIGN LEADING TOWARD JAPAN ITSELF. IN NOVEMBER, 1943, THE ISLAND WAS A KILLING GROUND. NAVAL AND MARINE CORPS PERSONNEL OCCUPIED THE NORTHERN PART OF THE ISLAND AND WERE TRYING DESPERATELY TO HOLD HENDERSON FIELD, A VITAL AIRSTRIP. THE JAPANESE ARMY AND NAVY WANTED IT BACK...BADLY. WHO CONTROLLED GUADALCANAL CONTROLLED "THE SLOT," THE MAJOR SHIPPING LANE USED BY JAPANESE WAR SHIPS AND TRANSPORTS TO HOLD THE SOLOMONS.

MANY SHIPS, AIRCRAFT, AND PERSONNEL HAD BEEN LOST ON BOTH SIDES DURING THE FIGHTING. SO MANY SHIPS IN FACT HAD BEEN SUNK IN AND AROUND THE NORTHERN END OF GUADALCANAL, SAVO ISLAND AND FLORIDA ISLAND, THAT THE BODY OF WATER SEPARATING THE ISLANDS BECAME KNOWN AS "IRONBOTTOM SOUND." YET...AMAZINGLY...THE AMERICANS HELD ON...SOMEHOW STOPPING ALL ATTEMPTS TO THROW THEM OFF THE ISLAND.

THE JAPANESE HIGH COMMAND KNEW THAT TIME WAS RUNNING OUT FOR THEM. GUADALCANAL HAD TO BE RETAKEN AND HELD WHILE JAPANESE FORCES STILL HAD THE NUMERICAL ADVANTAGE. IT BECAME ADMIRAL YAMMAMOTO'S PLAN TO RETAKE THE ISLAND IN ONE MAJOR ASSAULT IN NOVEMBER. ADMIRAL HALSEY, WITH LESS THAN A MONTH ON THE JOB AS COMMANDER OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC FORCE...WAS EQUALLY DETERMINED TO KEEP GUADALCANAL.

IN THE NAVAL BATTLE FOR GUADALCANAL THAT FOLLOWED...12-14 NOVEMBER...1943, IT IS RECORDED IN NAVAL HISTORY THAT SHIP LOSSES WERE FAIRLY WELL BALANCED. AMERICAN CASUALTIES, HOWEVER, WERE MUCH HIGHER THAN THAT SUFFERED BY THE JAPANESE. OUR NAVY HAD SUCCEEDED IN STOPPING THE LARGER AND HEAVIER- HITTING JAPANESE FLEET AND YAMMAMOTO NEVER DID GET GUADALCANAL. BUT IT WAS A COSTLY VICTORY.

THE JUNEAU, WHICH HAD TAKEN A TORPEDO EARLY ON IN THE FIGHTING, MANAGED TO SURVIVE AND JOINED UP WITH FIVE OTHER SHIPS...THE CRUISERS HELENA AND SAN FRANCISCO, AND DESTROYERS O'BANNON, STERETT AND FLETCHER. THEY SET A ZIG-ZAG COURSE SOUTH AWAY FROM IRONBOTTOM SOUND THROUGH INDISPENSABLE STRAIT FOR THE NEW HEBRIDES. AT JUST PAST ELEVEN A.M. A TORPEDO FIRED BY THE JAPANESE SUBMARINE I-26 STRUCK THE JUNEAU ON HER PORT SIDE ... UNDER THE BRIDGE ... AND PENETRATING AN AMMUNITION LOCKER. THE CRUISER DISINTEGRATED AND SANK WITHIN 20 SECONDS.

SEVEN HUNDRED MEN, INCLUDING THE FIVE SULLIVANS, WERE LOST.

WE KNOW, AS WE HONOR THOSE WHO HAVE DIED IN THE SERVICE OF THEIR COUNTRY, THAT THEY NO LONGER HEAR OUR WORDS. THEY DO NOT FEEL THE PRIDE THAT WELLS IN OUR HEARTS NOR COMPREHEND THE HONOR WE BESTOW ON THEM FOR THEIR SACRIFICE. YET...SOMETHING IN US COMPELS US TO ACT AS IF THEY DID UNDERSTAND.

I THINK THAT SOMETHING IS THAT WE WANT TO REMEMBER. WE NEED TO REMEMBER. WE WANT THOSE WHO FOLLOW AFTER TO UNDERSTAND THAT THE FREEDOMS WE ENJOY MUST NEVER BE TAKEN FOR GRANTED.

OUR FALLEN HEROES...AND THEY ARE HEROES EVERY ONE...HAVE DONE THEIR DUTY. THEY HAVE LEFT FOR US THE LEGACY TO DO OURS WITH NO LESS PASSION OR COMMITMENT.

THIS IS THE CHALLENGE WE FACE...THE CHALLENGE TO MAKE SURE WE HONOR THEIR SACRIFICE AND TO SAFEGUARD AND PASS ON TO OUR CHILDREN THE SAME LIBERTIES THAT WERE PRESERVED FOR US BY MILLIONS OF YOUNG WARRIORS JUST LIKE THE SULLIVANS. WE MUST KEEP THE FAITH IN GOD AND COUNTRY AND...IF NECESSARY...FIGHT TO KEEP IT SO.

TO DO LESS WOULD BE TO DISHONOR ALL THAT WE HOLD DEAR...ALL THAT AMERICA STANDS FOR...AND ALL THE FIGHTING SULLIVANS EVERYWHERE WHO HAVE EVER WORN THE UNIFORM OF THEIR COUNTRY.

TO THIS END WE HAVE OUR MEMORIAL DAYS, OUR VETERANS DAYS, OUR FOURTH OF JULYs, OUR MEMORIES AND OUR MONUMENTS ETCHED WITH THE NAMES AND DEEDS OF HEROES.

IF I HAD ONE WISH IT WOULD BE THAT NEVER AGAIN...EVER...UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES...WOULD IT BE NECESSARY TO CHISEL ANOTHER NAME IN STONE.

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