Navy Commissioning of USS Sterett
August 9, 2008
Thank you very, very much. It is an honor to be here on this tremendous day with all of you.
I want to thank Commander Blankenship, Senator Mikulski, Former Congresswoman Bentley, Secretary Winter, Secretary Stackley, Your Excellency Archbishop O’Brien, and Mrs. Bernson.
I also want to recognize the dedicated men and women of the United States Navy who are here today, especially the crew of the USS Sterett. To our families who are here, thank you for your love and your support as you have kept our servicemen and servicewomen women strong.
And to everyone who worked to bring this commissioning to the Port of Baltimore and the State of Maryland, I thank you.
To my fellow citizens who are here today, whose ingenuity, whose innovation, whose sweat and hard work and hard-earned dollars have built this amazing ship, I thank you. And on behalf of the people of our State, I welcome you.
This is an historic moment for our Port and for our State. We’re coming together today – people from all over Maryland and across the nation – to take part in a ceremony that continues the Navy’s tradition of excellence and service.
Our State shares a long and proud history with the Navy. Combining forces both on the ground at Fort McHenry and at sea along our vulnerable coastline, we came together to defend our country’s independence in 1812, here at the birthplace of the Star Spangled Banner.
And perhaps the most well known link that we have is the United States Naval Academy, which has stood in our capital city of Annapolis since 1845. And I understand some of our crew members here are recent graduates of that tremendous institution.
Our roots go even further. Over 2 centuries ago, Andrew Sterett, the son of a shipping merchant, was born in the City of Baltimore. After quickly rising through the ranks to become a lieutenant, he went on to command another Baltimore native – the USS Constellation, which was built in our harbor and became part of the Navy’s first fleet.
So today, this ship that bears a hero’s name will begin its watch, its crew remaining “forever dauntless” in the face of anything that would threaten our nation. One of the most powerful warships ever built, this day is a terrific beginning to the USS Sterett’s future.
Admiral Arleigh Burke reminded us that "the instruments of warfare are not solely for waging war. Far more importantly, they are the means for controlling peace.”
So to Commander Echerle and all of the crewmembers of the USS Sterett, thank you for answering the call to defend peace in our nation. We have no greater strength as a people than our men and women who give of themselves to protect the freedoms we hold dear, and we are honored and humbled by your courage and your willingness to serve.
In conclusion, I would like to present USS Sterett Commanding Officer Brian Eckerle a gift from the people of Maryland.