We owe Sailors the care and devotion they give US

How should we pay tribute to our Sailors?  Pericles once said of the Athenian warfighters that “when men’s deeds have been brave, they should be honored in deed.”  Our Sailors have served honorably, selflessly, and bravely around the world twenty-four hours a day and 365 days a year.  Their deeds have earned them the great appreciation of our nation – indeed it has earned them the appreciation of people around the world. 

There are many different ways we can pay tribute to them in our deeds this Memorial Day and every day. The tools our Sailors use to serve the nation’s interests are certainly physical:  ships and aircraft, networks and weapons, to name just a few.  On their many deployments, a ship, a submarine, a squadron or a detachment becomes a Sailor’s home, workplace, sanctuary and protection.  When we ask Sailors to protect and defend our interests in the Arabian Gulf, the Western Pacific, the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean, the Atlantic or beyond, they can do so only by means of the ships and aircraft entrusted to them.  In the case of our Individual Augmentees, Explosive Ordinance Disposalmen, Seabees, and S.E.A.L.s serving bravely on the ground in the Central Command, they too carry out their mission by means of what we provide them.  In turn, we owe our Sailors the finest fighting ships, aircraft and equipment.  Ones that are ready for any fight or contingency, and moreover, ones that will give them the decisive advantage in combat.  Those who buy, build and maintain the fighting ships and aircraft that our Sailors rely upon, therefore, pay an important tribute to our Sailors in their efforts.

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With ships, our Sailors can physically go anywhere and do anything that our nation asks, but they cannot carry out any mission without the preparation and support they receive at home.  Much of that support comes in the form of education and training.  Giving our Sailors the time and space to learn their craft and prepare for their missions is elemental to their success.  Those who prepare, train, educate and support our Sailors in their deployment preparations pay them a great tribute.

But tools, training, and education must be given to any person who is asked to get a job done.  What we ask of our Sailors is more than this and so in turn we owe them more.  We owe them the same care and devotion they have given to our nation.  Therefore, the men and women who care for the physical and emotional health of our deploying Sailors, our returning veterans and our Wounded Warriors pay an important tribute to their service.

In serving our nation, Sailors are not alone.  Families serve alongside Sailors in small ways and large, they also deserve our thanks and support for the special tribute they pay to our Sailors.  In addition, the volunteers and workers who are dedicated to supporting our families pay our Sailors, and their families, a great tribute.

Beyond the ships and the aircraft, the training and education, and the healthcare and the family support, Sailors need to know that their country supports them and that they are effectively answering the nation’s call to serve.  To every person who stops to think of our military men and women and their families, who marches in a parade or flies an American flag in their honor and memory – thank you for paying tribute to those who serve and have served this Memorial Day.

Adm. Roughead is the Chief of Naval Operations