“It follows than as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious.” (President George Washington, 1781)
Navy. One simple word that means so much to so many.
It means control of the seas. Without it, a young nation was defenseless against abuse and encroachment by foreign powers. With it, it could grow and develop into the most powerful and economically advanced country ever seen on earth.
It means tradition. Each of the services honors its heritage, but the Navy embraces it. Its customs, its language, even its uniforms are descendants of the earliest days of the service.
“The Navy has both a tradition and a future–and we look with pride and confidence in both directions.” (Admiral George Anderson, CNO, 1961)
It means sacrifice. USS JUNEAU (CL-52) and the Sullivan brothers. USS INDIANAPOLIS (CA-35). The Dorchester and the Four Chaplains. Halsey’s typhoon. Pearl Harbor. Midway. USS THRESHER (SSN-593) and SCORPION (SSN-589). The list goes on and on. Since 1775, thousands of American Sailors have lost their lives in some of the most remote and forbidding parts of the world, claimed by the indiscriminate cruelty of the sea.
It means separation. To do its job, the Navy must leave the comfort of home and travel to distant shores. Left behind to carry on are the families and loved ones, all waiting for their Sailors to return and praying they’ll be safe. The pain of separation is mitigated only when they see the silhouette of the returning ship on the horizon, and they are reunited.
It means compassion. When disaster strikes on foreign shores – and sometimes here in the United States – the Navy is inevitably there to save lives and provide comfort.
It means honor, courage and commitment. The Navy’s motto courses through the blood of Sailors. It isn’t just a slogan on a poster. It is a way of life.
This is my service. It was my father’s service, and my father-in-law’s service. It is all I ever wanted to do.
What does the Navy mean? It means everything to me.
To all of those who have served in the Navy, and those who still serve, congratulations on 232 years of devoted duty. You are our heroes of the week.