Secretary McNamara, Admiral Felt, ladies and gentlemen .'
We have come here this morning to pay honor to an outstanding officer and his outstanding career of honorable and faithful service to our country and to the cause of freedom in the world.
A few months after the end of the First World War the United States Naval Academy enrolled Midshipman Harry D. Felt. From that day in 1919 to this day in 1964, he has given 44 years of his life to the service of this Nation. I know of no way in which such devotion and such dedication could ever be rewarded fully or honored adequately, but I am sure that the personal knowledge of what he has done to make our freedom more secure is reward enough for Admiral Felt.
In many respects this long career of service around the world symbolizes the role of our Nation during this century. Over the span of nearly 5 decades, we have asked our sons and all our people to bear burdens which citizens of no other nation have ever borne. We have waved no flag of conquest. We have shouted no cries of national pride. But we have mustered great armies and we have floated great fleets and we have rallied our great resources to defend human freedom and world peace.
In all the history of humankind no other peoples have ever sought to exercise such an influence for responsibility among nations.
As this distinguished officer can be proud of the individual contribution that he has made, all of the American people can together be proud of the contribution that they and their Nation have made in the affairs of men. This great effort has not been for naught. We have not in 50 years changed the ways of the world for the last 5,000 years. But we have sown the seeds of decency, and I believe that we shall reap a harvest of victory if we continue on our course of preparedness and prudence and firm purpose.
The world in which Admiral Felt retires from active duty is much smaller than the world in which his duty and our destiny began, but the cause which we uphold is a much larger cause now for independent, freedom-loving men and women on every continent today. They stand with us, and our cause is the cause of free men everywhere. In the support of that cause, Admiral Felt has won the admiration and the respect of men from many free nations on both sides of the globe. For the past 6 years he has borne the responsibility for the largest joint military command in the world, acting as our Commander in Chief for the Pacific.
As your colleagues in uniform know, and as your country knows, Admiral Felt, you have met the challenges of this duty skillfully, prudently, and with a telling effect. You have been a lifelong credit to the traditions of your service and to the traditions of our country.
It is my privilege now, and a very great honor for me, on behalf of the Government and the people of the United States to add another honor to the many that you have received already in war and in peace--the Distinguished Service Medal.
I have asked Secretary McNamara to be present this morning and to read this citation.