Edited from Secretary England's address to the USNI Warfare Exposition and Symposium, Virginia Beach, Va., Oct. 3, 2002.
... As our nation approaches the first anniversary ... of our first blows for freedom in the War on Terror ... and I'm not speaking of 9-11, but rather, Oct. 7  — it will be exactly a year since Capt. Dave Mercer, CAG, Carrier Air Wing Eight, launched off the deck of USS Enterprise to deliver the first strike against Taliban and al Qaeda positions in Afghanistan. Now, a year later, the terrorist camps have been destroyed, the terrorist networks disrupted, and the people of Afghanistan liberated ... but there are still many more battles to fight ...
All manners of journalism will be a part of this fight. The military and journalists are partners in freedom. The military defends our freedom. Journalists maintain our freedom ... by defending the truth ...
September 11 is indelibly etched in the collective memory of America. Even as we wrestled with the internal feelings of shock, disbelief, fear, anger and overwhelming grief ... America was already responding to the attacks. In New York and at the Pentagon ... police, firefighters, emergency service providers and ordinary citizens worked feverishly to rescue survivors and treat the wounded ... and, of course, as we all know very well, heroic actions aboard United Flight 93 foiled the terrorists' last planned attack on our nation's capital.
While it would be comforting to believe that this war is drawing to an end, it's unfortunately closer to the beginning than to the end. This is still a time of testing for America ... and for freedom and liberty.
In my lifetime, there have been three "isms" that threatened America. It took a World War to defeat the first ism, which America entered when I was four years old. That was the war to defeat fascism. We prevailed militarily and were ultimately victorious by establishing a new government in Germany and in Japan.
In 1950, a few short years after defeating fascism, the nation found itself in war again in Korea. At that time, we did not know that the Korean War was merely the first bloody battle of a long war that would last until the wall came down — almost 40 years later — in Berlin in 1989. Korea was the beginning of the Cold War when the free nations of the world stood shoulder-to-shoulder to stop communism, the second ism of my lifetime. It took a World War to defeat fascism and a Cold War to defeat communism.
Now we are embarked on the war against terrorism, the third ism, and history has not yet recorded how this war will be characterized. We do know, however, that it will be a long war. It is also a war in which the United States and its allies must prevail because the consequences are so profound. For the first time in the history of mankind, a small number of people with weapons of mass destruction can wreak untold havoc in our cities and against our citizens ... against our allies ... and against freedom loving people around the world.
Several months ago, I was at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and visited the USS Arizona. I was also on board the USS Missouri. These ships rest side by side. The Arizona is symbolic of the beginning of World War II for America ... and the Missouri symbolic of the ending of that war. The peace treaty with Japan was signed on the deck of the Missouri. These two memorials provide a visual perspective of the beginning and end of a terrible war. Now visualize the tragedy in New York when the airliners crashed into the World Trade Centers ... the beginning of the war on terrorism. Now, try to visualize how this war will end. It certainly will not end with a peace treaty as it did on the USS Missouri at the end of World War II. Rather, it will require the military defeat of terrorism followed by a change of governments in countries that support terrorism. Ultimately that was what was required to defeat fascism and communism.
... Who could have imagined how fascism and communism would have ultimately ended by December 1942 or July 1951? The weapon that ended World War II was still embryonic in December of 1942, and certainly no one could have imagined in July 1951 that the Cold War was going to last another 38 years or that it would ultimately be won economically rather than militarily.
I can tell you one year into this war that our Naval services, our Navy and Marines, have never been better prepared than they are today. All of our readiness accounts are fully funded, our equipment is ready, our morale is high, and we are ready to prosecute the President's orders. This does not mean that these are comfortable times. Rather, as we continue our war against terrorism, we are also in the process of transforming our military ... and transforming the very way that the DoD manages its enterprise to be better prepared to protect and defend our nation as we face new future threats. This is not, however, a new role — our Naval forces have continuously changed to protect and defend our nation for the past 227 years.
One year into this war, I do know that victory in the war against terrorism will be much broader than just military. It will take our military, economic and diplomatic strength to win, and it will also take the strength of our journalists ... I also find it of great personal interest that none of the countries associated with any of the three isms ... had or have a free press. Jefferson was certainly right when he uttered his now famous dictum, "Were it left to me to decide ... whether we should have a government without newspapers ... or newspapers without a government ... I should not hesitate a moment ... to prefer the latter." ... To professionally challenge assumptions and conclusions and cause a measured and factual debate is beneficial and therefore encouraged. Dissent in the name of freedom is a virtue.
I said this would likely be a long war and that means we will ask our sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, — members of our American families to shed blood and, when necessary, to make the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. That includes the press. Last year 51 journalists were killed around the globe. All of you ... play a critical role in maintaining public awareness ... and enhancing public understanding of our Navy's daily action ... and the Navy's role in protecting America.
... I am reminded of the words President Bush spoke on his first visit to the Pentagon ... hours after the attack ... at 6:20 p.m. on September 12. The fires still burned in the Pentagon roofline ... the smell of smoke permeated the building ... and the sound of emergency sirens still pierced the air. Our military was on the highest alert. The Nation's senior uniformed and civilian military leaders were in the room ... the Joint Chiefs of Staff ... my fellow Service Secretaries ... the Secretary of Defense and his Deputy.
The President looked hard at each of us in turn and said ... "NEVER FORGET ... what happened yesterday ... never forget how you felt. I will never forget. The nation will go on because the nation has to go on ... people will need to get on with their lives ... but you and I can never forget, because we are charged by the American people to protect and defend our nation." We owe it to our children and our grandchildren to create a world that is free of the scourge of terrorism ... we owe it to the memory of those who have fallen in the line of duty ... We must remember the fallen as they would have wanted to be remembered — living in freedom as Americans. And it is the challenge to all of us ... to ensure that Americans ... across time and across this great land ... never forget: Never forget that our great nation is still threatened and eternal vigilance is still essential to preserve freedom. Never forget the sacrifices of heroes past and present. Never forget what happened in New York City ... at the Pentagon ... and in the skies over Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Never forget that as comrades-in-arms, our military and the press have a solemn duty to preserve liberty and freedom.
God bless each and every one of you ... God bless our fallen heroes and their families ... and God bless the United States of America.
Editor's Note: When President Bush signed the Homeland Security Bill into law Nov. 25, he established a new cabinet-level department to ensure the safety of the American people. Before Bush signed the bill in a White House ceremony, he announced he will nominate former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge to be the first Secretary of Homeland Security. He also said he will nominate Navy Secretary Gordon England to be deputy at the 170,000-worker agency.
"The trust and confidence that President Bush has shown in selecting me to join Governor Tom Ridge in this important work for our nation is deeply appreciated," said England, who has served as Secretary of the Navy since May 2001. "My only regret is that my time as Secretary has been too short; however, the naval services continue in the good hands of the Secretariat, Adm. Vern Clark, Gen. Jim Jones and all the other leaders of the Navy-Marine Corps Team. Our naval services are well positioned to carry on their long and great tradition of defending liberty and freedom around the world."
The new department will analyze threats, guard borders, coordinate national responses and focus the "full resources of the American government on the safety of its people," Bush said. The bill is a response to the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington D.C. The idea is to place all federal agencies involved with homeland security under one umbrella. The few exceptions are the military, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency. He said the Homeland Security Act is the "next logical step" in defending America. The act amalgamates 22 agencies into one department. "To succeed in their mission, leaders of the new department must change the culture of many diverse agencies, directing all of them toward the principal objective of protecting the American people," Bush said. "The effort will take time and focus and steady resolve." He said adjustments in the department will be needed, as this is the largest reorganization of the U.S. Government since the 1947 act that established the Defense Department. He said the new department would analyze information collected by U.S. intelligence agencies and match that against American vulnerabilities. The new agency will work with other agencies, the private sector, and state and local governments to harden America's defenses against terror, Bush stated.
The agency will focus on safeguarding the U.S. computer network, and defend against the growing threat of chemical, biological or nuclear assaults. The Department of Homeland Security will be one point of contact for state and local officials, and place security for all U.S. transportation systems under one roof. Bush noted the Department of Homeland Security will end duplication and overlapping responsibilities.
As we go to press Secretary England is expected to continue as Secretary of the Navy until January 2003.