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On the 236th birthday of the U.S. Navy, it is tempting to talk of history, to remind ourselves of ancient mariners who forged our traditions and heritage.

But sometimes it is good to remember recent history. To think back only a few years…less than a decade. I would like you to remember this:

The heroic deeds of Sailors two centuries ago established more than ceremonial traditions. They also set in stone the tradition of fighting to win. Of accepting nothing less than total victory.

The men and women of more recent history were no less heroic than the mariners who patrolled the seas during the early years of our nation. They too have stared danger in the face and refused to blink. Eight years ago – and continuing to this day – their projection of power came swiftly, silently, and lethally. From the hazy blue of the nearby seas came missiles, bombs, and – perhaps even more terrifying – special forces who could strike from anywhere.

Most of them were young. Their friends back home could only watch the news and wonder what would come next. The Sailors of 2003 already knew. They were the news.

Today’s Navy climbed to the top of the mountain long ago, and for decades has refused to yield its supreme position to any other navy in the world. Some have tried, but none have succeeded.

Not by a long shot.

Happy Birthday, Navy.

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