Remarks to the Crew of the U.S.S. George Washington in Portsmouth, United Kingdom
Thank you very much. And thank you, Captain Sprigg. Thank you, gentlemen, for that welcome. It's nice to be here.
Just a few moments ago, my wife and I were on the royal yacht Britannia with the heads of 15 nations around the world. And when we went by the George Washington, they were all ecstatic. They asked me questions about this magnificent carrier, and thankfully, I'd done my homework and I could answer them. So you now have 15 more fans around the world, thanks to this wonderful day.
Exactly 50 years ago at this very time, young people just like you were right here in this channel on some 5,000 ships preparing for the most important battle of this century. Imagine how they must have felt, in choppy seas and bad weather. Imagine how they must have looked to the enemy when they came across the horizon. Imagine what the enemy forces would have thought then if they had seen this magnificent ship.
You are beyond question the best trained, the best equipped fighting force the world has ever known. And I want you to know that I am committed unequivocally, absolutely, to ensuring that you continue to have what you need to do your job. You deserve it. Our security demands it.
Let me also say that it has been one of the great honors of my life for me to be able to come here to represent our entire country in commemorating D-Day and the other great battles of World War II. Yesterday, I was near Cambridge, England, at the magnificent cemetery which has over 3,800 Americans buried there who were part of the air war against Germany, and on the wall a list of 5,000 others who never returned. I was with a man from my home State who flew 149 missions in that difficult endeavor.
This has been a very emotional time for Hillary and me. Her father was in the Navy during the Second World War; my father was in the Army in part of the Italian campaign. Yesterday and the day before, when we commemorated the landings at Anzio and Nettuno, were incredible experiences.
Just before I came aboard here I met some other proud veterans of World War II who made the crossing on the U.S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien, a World War II Liberty ship. You've seen it, I'm sure. It's right here near you. It was one of the many ships that were part of the lend-lease program, bringing aid to the British even before the United States formally entered the war.
As I met with them, and now as I look out at all of you and hear your enthusiasm and your strength, I am reminded that for all of our incredible technological advances, the strength of our military is not really in our ships, our tanks, or our aircrafts, it is in you, the dedicated professionalism of the men and women of the United States Armed Forces.
Even though the cold war is over, we are still on the eve of great endeavors, not to turn back armies of oppression which threaten our very existence but to protect our safety and security and to expand the blessings of liberty. This work will not be done in a day or year. It will not be finished during the term of your service. It may not be finished in the life of this great Nation, but it must continue. It will take you all across the globe, from the Adriatic to the Indian Ocean, from the Persian Gulf to the Sea of Japan.
As we honor those who served in World War II, we must also honor those of you who serve now, who are continuing the legacy they left us. For if we learned any lesson from the magnificent, heroic, almost unbelievable endeavor of D-Day, it was that if the allies would stay together and stay strong, we would never need another D-Day. That is what you are guaranteeing, and your country is deeply in your debt.
Let me also say, as I conclude my remarks and congratulate those who are reenlisting, I know this has been a difficult time for many young people who wanted to commit their careers to our Armed Forces because of the downsizing that inevitably came. I want you to know, number one, we're more than halfway through; number two, it will be over in 2 years; number three, there will be more advancements this year than last year, more advancements next year than this year. We still need you. We need your devotion. We need your talent. And the military of the United States is still going to be an important and good place to make a career because it's still defending the security of the greatest nation in the history of the world.
And now I would like to introduce, to continue the reenlistment, the new Chief of Naval Operations, a man who has done a terrific job for our country in dealing with the problems in Bosnia and elsewhere throughout his naval career, a man who has come a long way since he started, Admiral Mike Boorda. Please welcome him.
NOTE: The President spoke at 3:01 p.m. aboard the ship. In his remarks, he referred to Capt. Robert Sprigg, USN, captain of the U.S.S. George Washington.
William J. Clinton, Remarks to the Crew of the U.S.S. George Washington in Portsmouth, United Kingdom Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/219234