Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III hosts former Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper at the unveiling of the former secretary’s portrait at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia, July 15, 2022.
Good morning and welcome to the portrait unveiling ceremony in honor of the honorable Mark T Esper. The 27th Secretary of Defense please stand as we welcome Mrs. Leah Esper and remain standing for the arrival of the official party, honors the singing of our national anthem and the invocation. Oh say can you see by the dawn’s early light? What so proudly we held had the twilight’s last gleaming whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous. Thus fight with a wrong parts we watched were so gallantly streaming and the rockets radical er the bombs bursting in air gave proof through the night that our flag was still there. Oh say does that stop wave with the line of the free and the home of the Brave Almighty God, Lord of Heaven and earth of all things seen and unseen. We gather today for a ceremony in honor of the honorable Mark T Esper And his faithful service to our country. As the 27th Secretary of Defense we are all made in your image o Lord and so in the unveiling of Secretary Esper image, we will not be surprised to see faithfulness to oaths. His picture containing his family and his oath to them. And this oath of office to our country concerned with many matters large and small as his image hints at responsibilities which ranged from cyberspace to outer space with a plague of war in the plague of disease with countries considering our own and as far as way as Iran Afghanistan Russia and china almighty God we are grateful for secretary Esper and all of our leaders who have borne such huge responsibilities. So may we all our leaders and ourselves ultimately in all humility, commit to the heavens the earth to your care, who care for every single one of us made in your image. Amen. Please be seated. Ladies and gentlemen, the Secretary of Defense boy jay Austin the third. Well, good morning a distinguished guest, colleagues and friends. Welcome. There are too many people here to acknowledge by name but I wanna especially welcome Secretary War Meth General Milley and other members of the Joint Chiefs and many more. And for the man who is the reason that we’re all here. Secretary Esper. Welcome thanks for joining us for this special occasion and I’m delighted that we’re also joined by your wife. Leah Mrs. Esper. Thank you for everything that you’ve done to make your husband’s service possible and for your own tireless efforts to improve the lives of our military families. Let me also welcome the expert Children Luke, Jack and Kate. I know how proud you make your parents. Secretary Esper, I think we also have your mother Polly and your sister Donna here as well and we’ve got more family members joining us remotely. I know that this is a proud day for your entire family. It’s also great to see so many of secretary Esper, his former teammates and staff, including our dedicated career professionals both in and out of uniform who make this department run. Thanks for being here with us. Now, the portraits that hang in the pentagon are a big deal, they are a constant reminder of our history and of the great American story written by the people who served in our department and of those who have sacrificed so much to keep our republic secure. You know, when I walk through the ring, I always know that the eyes, those former secretaries of defense or on us all. In fact, secretary Esper, his predecessor, Jim Mattis used to say that when he walked out of his office and down the hall every night, he felt like he could actually see the eyeballs in those poor tree. It’s poetry. It’s following him around and then he would tell them, hey, come on, give me a break. I’m working on it and everyone here is working on it. Everyone in this department is striving to safeguard our constitution and strengthen our democracy. So we’re joined today by a group of outstanding public servants and secretary Esper, they’re all here because of your deep commitment to serve a commitment to showing up to wanting the ball and to supporting the great men and women of this department. In fact, your drive to get things done became a bit notorious. I’m told that you always carried a list of your top priorities on a card in your pocket and every time that you’d reach in your pocket for that card. Your staff knew that it was in trouble. Actually I’m told that you probably have a card on you right now just to keep the staff on their toes. Now that brand of tireless dedication is something that you learned at West Point. And as many of you know, Secretary Esper is a proud West Point graduate and your West Point class motto says courage never quits. Let me welcome more than 20 members of the West Point class of 1986 who are here with us today For your benefit. Mr. Secretary, I’m gonna try this again. Let me welcome the class of 86 who are here with us today. Secretary Esper, West Point taught you discipline and diligence. It taught you the obligation to take care of your people and it taught you that service to your country is both a duty and a privilege, decades, decades you found many different ways to serve, including working in several key roles on Capitol hill. You later had an impressive run in the private sector including leadership positions with key members of our defense industrial base. And then you served as Secretary of the Army alongside General Milley. You work to improve training and to modernize the force and to refocus our efforts at recruitment retention and so much more. In July 2019, you became the 27th Secretary of Defense and you began your tenure as this department was facing historic challenges. You lead d. o. d. through the frightening early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. That was a time of dread, uncertainty and terrible loss. Yet thousands of D. O. D. Personnel helped to get desperately needed supplies and care. two Americans around the country and the department worked urgently with other agencies in the private sector to ramp up domestic production of test masks and other essential equipment and to help develop the Covid vaccines that have now saved so many lives. You also work to focus this department’s attention and resources on china. An effort that we are carrying forward. As we speak. You push to rebalance our posture around the world, including bracing for competition with other great powers. And you worked hard to modernize our military and to improve its lethality and readiness. And you helped oversee the creation the space force and today our guardians are vital to deterring conflict across domains. And I know that you’re especially proud of your efforts to improve the quality of life for our service members and their families. And that’s a cause that’s dear to your and Mrs. S spurs hearts. You work to improve military pay and benefits to improve on base housing to provide greater career flexibility for service members with families and so much more. And that touched the lives of thousands of men and women who served and finally secretary Esper, we all know that you serve during turbulent times for our nation. We may face more rough seas in the days to come. But I am confident that our ship of state can weather them and I know that everyone here shares that faith. And ladies and gentlemen, our democracy only works if it works in difficult days. But I hope that we can use days like today to remind us of the things that unite us and the beliefs that we share democracy. The relief, Yeah. The noble calling of public service. The shoulder to shoulder cooperation with allies and partners who magnify our strength. The summons to be good stewards of institutions like this great department and the oath that we all swear to defend the constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. Those are the beliefs that will always guide us home. So Secretary Esper, thank you for serving at a time of great uncertainty and challenge. Thank you for your love of this great institution. Thank you for your profound care for this department and the people of this department. And thank you for this capstone in a long life of service and again to everyone here this morning. I thank you again for joining us and at this point Mr. Secretary, I’d ask you to join me at the at the front here and we will unveil your portrait. Ladies and gentlemen, the official portrait of the honorable Mark T Esper. 27th Secretary of Defense. Mhm. Thank you, Secretary Austin, ladies and gentlemen, the honorable Mark T Esper, Well, good morning everyone, Secretary Defense Austin Lloyd, thank you for your kind words and introduction. Thank you for that cry back there as well. I know what you’re, I know what your days are like. So I really appreciate you taking the morning to uh to dedicate it to this ceremony and for honoring me. So thank you very much. I appreciate it. We have several V. I. P. S in the audience. I hope to recognize them all. I apologize if I don’t uh current Army Secretary Christine warmth, thank you very much for being here. Obviously uh the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Milley is here. He was my senior advisor of course during my tenure as Secretary of the Army and later Secretary of Defense. And coincidentally the last time he and I were here together for a ceremony ceremony on Fort Myer. He’s smiling because he knows where I’m going with this. It was his his ceremony to introduce him as the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff in October 2019. It was out on the parade ground behind us and it was raining cats and dogs. We were soaked to the bone. The chairman had a glum look on his face and the president came over to us and trying to bolster the mood said something like don’t worry, don’t worry general. The rain means you have good luck on the job. How’d that go? We also have former Secretary of HHS Alex Azar here Alex. Great to see you Alex came up with the idea of Operation Warp Speed Which defied the experts who publicly said that there was no way that you could develop a mass produce a vaccine for COVID in less than 5-8 years. So we decided to do it in eight months and produced not one but two vaccines. And of course privately the critics said there was no way that two cabinet secretaries, let alone two departments can work together. But we did it Alex and thanks for your leadership. We have john Bolton, the former national security adviser who I’ve known for over two decades, a force of nature, the nation’s preeminent national security expert and a man of great principle. He, it happened, he was in the room where a lot of things happened, john great to be here. I know Matthew Friedman is out here as well along. Confidant of both yours and mine. I appreciate him being here as well. He’s been a great friend for many years. David Norquist, former Deputy Secretary Defense Ryan McCarthy, former Secretary of the Army, both of whom I’ll talk more about later. But thank you both for being here. I see ken Braithwaite, former Secretary of Navy sitting behind you as well, ken. Thanks for showing up. Um there are other V. I. P. S. I’m sure I will miss but I also wanna acknowledge General dan Hokanson. Uh the head of the National Guard and my classmate, he’s here and his wife Kelly, I believe General McConville, I apologize, Chief of Staff. The army. Good to see you as well. We’re supposed to have Chef Robert Irvine here, another Navy man by the way, the Royal Navy. But he is one who really cares about our service members and our families and despite being a celebrity in his own right for sure, he’s always taken the time to work in a very low key manner with our service members. Franco Harris is here and his wife Dana, I had the privilege of secretary of the army, of getting to know the Steelers of the 70s. And so it’s great to see Franco here. I know General Milley who is a patriots fan wants to say hello and thank you, but we all know Franco’s accomplishments on the playing field, but many probably don’t know that he is the son of a World War two army veteran and when playing with the world champion and when playing with the world champion, Pittsburgh Steelers in the 70s, Pennsylvanians know that he lead his own army, Franco’s Italian army. So frankly it’s great to be here. There are many, many, many other friends here today. I hope so. I want to do my best to call out some of them for, for being here. But first I want to thank the many members of the West point class of 86 for, for arriving, you are a great group of patriots and I’m proud to call you all classmates and friends. However, I important to sequester you off to the side. I supported that action knowing things that can get rowdy at times. I was at the West Point recently on our day, which is reception day for the class of 2026. That of course makes us old grads. They’re not the oldest in the audience. Mr. Secretary, The class is 75. But seeing the new cadets running around, getting their heads shaved, drawing equipment and wearing their first set of white over white over gray reminded me of our own reception day. It was 40 years and two weeks ago today that we all swore our first oath to the Constitution of the United States. Thank you all for your public service. The West Point Class of 1915 is considered one of the greatest of all time. It is the class that the stars fell on. As the saying goes with 25 star generals of the army. To four star generals and 73 star lieutenant generals. Of course everyone has heard of Bradley and Eisenhower. The U. S. Military doesn’t have five star generals anymore. But the class of 1986 also had 24 star generals, several lieutenant generals, multiple major generals, but also members of Congress, ambassadors and so on. And then there are the classmates who excelled in business and finance and politics. Some of them are here today. If I had to create a list of things I’m most proud of and that I had little to do with Top of that list would be raising three wonderful kids. The next would be the good fortune of being a member of the second greatest West Point class of the 20th century. The West Point class of 1986. I do want to call out a few of my classmates for special recognition beginning with Father Matt Pawlikowski who gave that wonderful vacation. He’s a tremendous pastor and inspirational speaker and also an airborne ranger figure that out. His most memorable moment for me was when he was photographed a few years ago, kneeling behind the army bench praying the rosary in the fourth quarter of Army of Football’s greatest rivalry. We beat Navy that season and his faith certainly contributed to that win. So thanks for making the trip down Father Matt. I also want to recognize David Urban, my oldest friend going back to our days together in Pittsburgh, he’s not only a great friend, but one of the most selfless, generous and accomplished persons I know a rare combination indeed. And I want to thank him for that friendship also, he and his wife Kelly for being here today and for all the great advice and assistance you’ve given me throughout the years and that you’ve shown me and my family. He’s also introduced me and Leah by the way. So I owe him far more than most people realize. Of course. I’m not sure that lee assures that sentiment as robustly And then there’s Steve Valentine another old friend and repeat roommate for me at West Point. We’ve got a lot of neat things over the years, 40 years from mountaineering in the alps to ice climbing in New England Mountain Biking and most recently Skydiving. He’s trying to kill me where I’m trying to kill him. But he’s been a great loyal and selfless friend as well and I appreciate him and his wonderful wife, Melissa making the trip all the way here from California. I want to thank Donna and Brett Faircloth, another great American couple for their friendship over the years. Rusty biddle for his friendship and organizing the class to be here. Thank you all very much. There are a few other classmates out there who I either room with at the academy or served with on active duty. I call them out too. But some of them are congenital liars. You can’t trust anything they say about me. So please avoid them at all costs. But seriously, you are a wonderful group. And during my tenure sector, I always appreciated the calls, the text messages, the emails that I would get, expressing your support each and every note and thought and kind word meant a great deal to me, especially in the toughest of days and we had some tough days. I deeply appreciate your unqualified support. It doesn’t just mean a lot, it means everything. Secretary Austin mentioned the class model, courage never quits and most people that doesn’t a model doesn’t mean much to them. I’ll tell you it meant a lot to me. I described the story in my book about being in the Oval office with the President. I know the chairman will recall this on June 3rd. It was after I went out and publicly announced that I would not support invocation of the insurrection act and would not support the deployment of American troops into the streets of America. And the president was quite upset yelling at me for quite some time as I responded, we had a meeting after that session and I had to make the long walk from the oval office to the situation room and at that point in time I was debating should I stay or should I go, should I stick with a fight or resign? As I entered the situation room mike Pompeo, my classmate was sitting there and mike looks up at me from his chair and with his half smile says to me, courage never quits. And it was half in humor and half an empathy. But it meant a great deal to me at the time and gave me that extra push that day to move on and keep going forward, another day, another moment for our country. I want to thank also to my former colleagues from the defense industry and business associations who are here Kourtney, Michael Ryan, Latasha, David joe and others. I appreciate it. Not only your support during my pentagon tours, but also for all that. You taught me about business and economics and corporate management. This background was instrumental to our success in standing up Army Futures command in 2018 when I was secretary of the army and then later to implementing several business reforms at the Pentagon. And while we all know that some members of Congress think that working in corporate America or God forbid, the aerospace and defense industry is a mortal sin. I contend that we need more people in government with that type of experience, business acumen and leadership skills. Speaking of politics, a few friends from my days on Capitol hill from the personal staffs I worked into the committee staffs I worked on are here today, Rachel and Richard Allen, Bill Ramona Dean and others. Great to see you all thank you for coming. It’s also wonderful to see some of my old friends from my years on active duty from my town of the 101st Airborne At Fort Campbell Mike and Matt and Beth and my days at the 3325th airborne in Vicenza Brett Scott Sunny and others. As I look back upon my career, I can see that my days on active duty in an in an infantry battalion with my fellow brothers in arms as some of the best years of my professional life. It was not just fun and rewarding and challenging but fun, rewarding and challenging all at the same time. And of course back then you knew you could trust the person on your left and your right. Equally important you were confident that the only bad guys out there were the ones to your front downrange. I wish that were true of Washington. You like that john didn’t you? Okay, I’m blessed to have friends here today, not just from our neighborhood in Virginia but also from outside the area from Pennsylvania and Tennessee and Florida in California and Georgia and elsewhere who traveled a long way to share this moment with Leah and me. Thank you all very much for your friendship and support. It means a great deal. I’m really pleased to see friends and colleagues from my tenure as Secretary of the Army aside from being a platoon leader, a company commander, it was the second most fun I ever had in the army. It was also the job I most enjoyed at the pentagon and I mean of all my jobs at the pentagon lee and I always said that our best times in the army, the mission, the sense of purpose, the shared sacrifice like living in Italy. It was terrible and the friends, the great friends who made all along the way. So when I became Secretary of the Army in 2017 it was like coming home except I didn’t have to do a P. C. S. Move. I was blessed with a great leadership team, Ryan McCarthy, fellow traveler and defense industry and army ranger who led the way on modernization. General Mark Milley of course who brought the army back to high readiness standards through training and all that. He brought to the force. And of course Jim McConville who was my loyal wingman on talent management and all the things personnel. We were able to make monumental changes in the service changes that were desperately needed. Some that were long overdue, others that were unforeseen and a few that we all just wanted to make happen. You know, most of you are familiar with the establishment of futures command night court, the new army combat fitness test, Resurrection of the pinks and greens World War two uniform. Each of these has a unique story and some are a little a little funny You remember the time when we were working to to strengthen lengthen and toughen army basic combat training. The debate on the key issue was what would we go from 13 weeks of training to 22 or 23 at some point if my memory serves me right. General Miller came back from a meeting and apparently some senior marine made a comment about the army not being tough enough or something. They were thinking about making their their basic training longer and at that point in time at that moment we decided we’re gonna make 23 weeks. The standard. Just assure the marines. All that said, I want to save my final thank you’s for two very special groups of people. The first is the extraordinary team of civilian and military leaders that I had a Secretary of defense. As many of you know, my focus was war fighting and my top priority as sec def was implementing the National Defense strategy. Doing something like that is difficult even during normal times. And of course we weren’t living in normal times. As Secretary Austin mentioned great power competition with china and Russia. Conflict with Iran war in Afghanistan. On top of that once in a century. Global pandemic unrest in our streets we hadn’t seen in generations. So truth be told, I felt it important to keep folks focused on the really critical work of the pentagon because if you’re not steering the ship forward during rough seas, then there’s no telling where the currents will take you, especially when you must turn into the wind and into the waves. So I want to thank the Service Chiefs, Army Chief of Staff, General Jim McConville. Admiral Mike guild a Air Force General Dave Goldfein and C. Q. Brown, Marine Corps. General Commandant David Berger. Chief of Space Operations, General Jay Raymond and Coast Guard Commandant. Admiral Karl Schultz. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention as well, the two Chiefs of the National Guard Bureau, General joe Rangel and General dan Hokanson. The Guards stood tall in 2020. It was an important year for them, what they did for our country. We also had a solid group of combat commanders, all too numerous to list, but I appreciate their dedication and service to country as well. Lastly, I want to publicly thank the most senior officers with whom I had the honor and privilege to serve alongside during my tenure. Beginning with General joe Dunford and General Mark Milley. Both men are extraordinary officers, exceptional individuals to always offer great advice and insight, insight and encouragement. During their respective 10ures, I spilled a lot of ink in my memoir talking about General Milley, his exceptional service to country and during our time together, I hope he’s delivering for you too as well, Secretary Austin. So I won’t further embarrass him today. I just want to say chairman. Thanks once again, I also want to thank the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs who also served with General Paul selva and General john Hyden. I had an exceptional cadre of undersecretaries and other civilians Who helped me be successful accomplished a good deal. During my 18 months at the helm of the Pentagon. I’m gonna call a few of them out beginning with James Anderson, a policy who led the push to update our war plans, implement new readiness concepts such as the immediate response forces to review and update and approve our china and Russia War plans and reallocate and redeploy our forces around the globe. Then there’s matt Donovan a personal readiness who haunts you everything from our diversity and inclusion initiatives to expanding childcare for our service members. In developing a novel regime that would validate our joint training and large scale exercises. He worked closely with Paul. My my general counsel helped me craft a policy that did away with confederate symbols on our basis and other political symbols. Ellen Lord who led acquisition and sustainment, doing a remarkable job on issues ranging from updating acquisition policies to surging logistics and Shoring up the supply chain. In the dark days of COVID in 2020 joe Kernan and the undersecretary for intelligence who did remarkable work on several things I can’t talk about. It was also quick to offer his keen, keen insights on any number of matters Jonathan Hoffman. I had a public affairs who did a fantastic job of the press and the White House on a daily basis and still others such as Israel Brumer Dana, Deasy, Ellen McCusker, James, Stewart, Hina clink and others who served in positions at the pentagon at various times during my tenure. My service secretaries, Barbara, Barrett, Richard, spencer, ken, Braithwaite and Ryan McCarthy and their service chiefs. We’re all real professionals and dedicated public servants who put country first took care of the troops and did their very best to protect the country and advance our nation’s security. David Norquist, my loyal wingman who did far more for the department than most will ever know, let alone appreciate. But some highlights include his work with me to reform and manage the 4th estate. His assistance to modernize the force by investing in game changing technologies and his efforts to develop a future force structure for the navy. That would ensure our overmatch against the Chinese for decades to come. David also played a critical role in helping manage warp speed and D. O. D. S efforts to support the whole of government response to Covid. David. Thanks once again my Chief of staff, eric tuning and jen Stewart who ran the building extremely effectively and did so with great skill and nicely I might add all the while having to put up with me especially gen to whom I think I asked on almost a daily basis what do we need to do today in case I get fired tomorrow. She would frown and say you mean sir, when we get fired tomorrow, my senior military Assistant General Brian Fenton who soon be taking command of Special Operations Command. My highly capable executive secretaries, Captain Ali Lewis and Dave Sado. And finally my aides and special assistance. Lieutenant Colonel Tim Leonie who’s now down at the 82nd Airborne and Lieutenant Colonel Caleb hill it who I think is going on to bigger and better things here soon. Lieutenant josh Colonel josh who was my speechwriter, my deputy Chief of staff Alexis ross who did personnel and acquisition and Justin Johnson on space. Emily, Chumacero, Liz Celia and most importantly anti powers. My e extraordinary is any out there. I gotta tell her happy Friday Anne. I also want to take this moment to thank not just Anne but Sarah Farnsworth and Jennifer price for the great work they did. Getting me this portrait and this event to this date and working well. I want to thank my security team, Rodney john Keith, Eddie eric and many, many others who watched over me and Leah these last few years and continue to do so. This extraordinary group of people and many others too numerous to list kept me organized, prepared and ready for anything and everything. They also ran the department and were a joy to have around even during the toughest days. They were hard at work optimistic, uplifting and an inspiration to all, especially me. In the epilogue of my memoir, I speak to my view that most people go into government to serve their country, not a president, not a party and not a philosophy but to serve their country to follow their oath to do good out of a sense of duty or passion or both. All those people I just called out and the hundreds and hundreds of others I was privileged to work with are the great patriots of our time. Most are the unsung heroes. They are the ones who work the long hours often coming in before the sun Rose and leaving after it’s set, they are the ones who passed on high paying jobs and generous expense accounts in the private sector in order to serve their fellow Americans. They are the ones who suffered the slings and arrows of the press and politicians and the whisper campaigns of peers and partisans and yet they endured. They persevered to serve a higher good to follow a more difficult path to choose a harder right to serve their country Above all else as such. The American people in history should be eternally thankful for these heroes. Service, sacrifice and commitment. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in a round of applause for them. Secretary Austin. I know you have a packed schedule. I’ve gone long, but this is my last chance. I’ll wrap it up real quick here. Lastly I want to thank my family beginning with my mom of course, for being there from day one literally for, for helping me become who I am today and for being here as well for my old staff who think I’m overly curious and an interminable questioner. I invite you to spend a few minutes with mom afterward. You’ll see where I inherited that trait. Next I want to thank my sisters patty and Don and Beth for Beth Ann for and their families for their love and support. I truly appreciate it. I also want to thank my Children Luke, Jack and Kate. They are the joy of Leah’s and my lives Leah deserves the credit for ensuring that they became the wonderful and caring people that they are. And while they are unique in many ways, the three of them share at least two common traits. First, the support love they have given me throughout their lives and second their uncanny ability to keep me humble by finding new ways to make fun of me despite this flaw they inherited from their mother. I love them nonetheless and remain their biggest fan and supporter. Most people don’t realize or think about the challenges that families face when their parents are in high profile jobs. All of our kids, I’m sure had to deal with friends and acquaintances who were strongly opposed to the last administration and felt it was their duty to share their angry views with them. And then there are other things Kate for example, had a security detail during her senior year in college. I didn’t have a problem with that, but I think she did. And Luke would get stopped in the driveway of our home in burke. He pulled in and go to his trunk of his car to pull stuff out. The security detail would walk up and say, may I help you sir mm He thought they were offering to grab a suitcase. They were trying to figure out who he was Leah told him to visit more often. Lastly and most importantly, I want to thank my wonderful wife and best friend of more than 33 years Leah for her unconditional love and support through it all, Much like she did nearly 25 years earlier when I was army commander in Europe, she played the role of helping me look after spousal family and quality of life issues for our service members. Without her support. We would not have accomplished as much as we did during my time in office. The profession of arms after all, is a family business and the spouses and Children carry a different and heavier load than their soldiers, airman, marine or guardian as such. It was vitally important to have her with me as an active and positive force for families and she did so with great enthusiasm, commitment for all the right reasons, but her love and support and indeed our marriage is much more than that. So it’s a small token of my love and thanks, I want to present her with some flowers, I’ll get in trouble later for spending the money for it. When my memoir came out in early May quickly rose to the top three of the new York times bestseller list. I was quite happy with this. Of course my publisher nonetheless thought we’d go to number one. I knew we wouldn’t. However, after all we had stiff competition in the book buying world. It was May, high school and college graduations were in full swing across the country and dr Seuss’s Oh the places you’ll go was going, Gangbusters Once again lee And I knew this because we’d given our kids the same book upon their graduations. So, as in so many years prior, Seuss once again dominated the market. I was okay with this. But as I pondered dr Seuss and his wisdom at the time, and in the weeks leading up to today’s ceremony, I was reminded of one of his most famous quotes inspired by, oh, the places you’ll go. It sums up my love and feelings for Leah our marriage and partnership and what I call our best friendship. It’s also true for our wonderful kids as well. And of course it resonates with how I feel towards so many of you. But mostly this is for lee and our family. Dr Seuss once said quote, Life’s Just one Great Journey. It’s a road we travel as we go from Point A to point B. What makes that journey worthwhile? It’s the people we choose to travel with. The people we hold close as we take steps into the darkness and blindly make our way through life. They are the people who matter. Thank you all very much for traveling with me on my journey. Thank you dr Esper ladies and gentlemen, please stand for the benediction and the United States Armed Forces medley as we leave the ceremony. We’re grateful. Oh my God, for secretary Esper service and accomplishments for his sacrifices and the sacrifice of his family and to have been privileged to be at this unveiling of the countenance of his face. We ask your continued blessings on him and his family who continue to serve our country because courage never quits. And we ask your blessing as well on Secretary Austin and all of our past and current civil and military leaders may they always make policy and decisions in accord with your own will and your eternal law because that will always lead to the good of our own country and thus the good of the world. And so to everyone here, May the Lord bless you and keep you Amen. May the Lord let his face shine upon you and be gracious to you. Amen. And may the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and grant you and our world peace. Amen, mm. Please remain standing for the departure of the official party. Mhm. Okay. Right