On this date two hundred and twenty five years ago, the infantile Continental Congress of what was soon to become the United States of America authorized the arming and manning of two ships.
The two ships were equipped to fight and defend themselves if necessary while patrolling in search of unsympathetic "enemy" ships, mainly from Europe, that were supplying the British Army in the new colonies. The plan was to capture the supplies from the enemy ships and re-route those supplies to the desperate troops of General George Washington. Those two ships signified the birth of the United States Navy.
It wasn't until almost two hundred years later in 1972, during the Viet Nam War, and during the years that a lot of us were proudly serving on our Oklahoma City, that Admiral Elmo Zumwalt designated the 13th of October as the "official" birthday of the U.S. Navy. Through two and a quarter centuries, the American Navy has grown in size and strength, and has matured to become the most powerful force afloat anywhere in the world, now or ever.
On this day of honoring our fleet and fellow sailors, it is heartbreaking to witness the loss of life and the injuries aboard the USS Cole in Yemen. At a time when we should be celebrating, it is a time for mourning and a sense of loss. At a time when most of the world is at peace, we are reminded of the persistent ugliness of terrorism that still exists.
But this is a time when we can and should reflect on our Navy with pride, honor, and respect. It is because of our strength and superiority that the human garbage of the world try to bring us down to their level. Our fleets prevailed through 225 years of history, through the Revolution, the War of 1812, Civil War, World Wars I and II, Korea, our own Viet Nam War, and the Gulf War, and we must continue to lead the way for future generations of Navy personnel and all others who seek a peaceful co-existence. The brave crew of the Cole may not have died in battle, but they nevertheless volunteered to serve in a dangerous part of the world and deserve to be respected and honored as the generations of Navy family before them.
At moments like this, I reflect on the powerful words of our Navy Hymn:
Eternal Father, Strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bid'st the mighty Ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
O hear us when we cry to thee,
For those in peril on the sea.
May they rest in Eternal Peace.