The Navy

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Like many before me, I am a Sailor’s son. He served for only two years in World War II, and by his own admission, the experience altered the course of his life. He was a high school dropout with a rebel spirit, and he joined the Navy as soon as he was old enough.

He returned from war a changed man. A better man. He was responsible. He was motivated. And he never lost his love for the service that made him that way.

Yet he was no different from many thousands of young men and women who have been a part of this incredible Navy. Many never realize how the service changed their lives until the day they take off the uniform for the last time. Then it hits them. They look back and realize what a privilege it was to be a part of something special. To be a part of a professional team at the top of its game – one with no peers that even approach its level of performance.

When they see a photo of a Navy helo delivering supplies to a devastated country, or hear about a successful mission carried out by a S.E.A.L. team, or see a Navy jet fly over, they still feel a part of it.

Because it never leaves you.

They begin to realize that they joined the Navy to serve, but in the end they received as much as they gave. Maybe more.

As we speak there are hundreds of thousands of men and women who are still out there, working hard and building their own memories and experiences. Many are at sea. Many are serving in dangerous and forbidding lands, far from the nearest ocean. But they are still ours. Still Sailors.

And we embrace each one.

Happy birthday, Navy, and thank you for 235 years of honor, courage and commitment.

(View the CNO’s birthday message.)

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