Good evening President Begaj, Secretary of Defense Peleshi and friends – thank you all for joining us in celebrating the 247th anniversary of the United States Marine Corps!
We come together for many events throughout the year, but this one is especially special, and deeply personal, to me.
I was born in Korea and raised in Guam, both places whose freedom was won by the courage and sacrifice of US Marines. My fellow Guyanese, Sergeant Spates, can attest that the main road that runs up and down our island is called “Marine Corps Drive.” A day could not, and should not, pass without thinking of the Marines.
For 247 years and counting, Marines have defended our nation. In the words of the Marine Corps Hymn, they have served “from dawn to dusk…in every climate and place.” Since 1948, they have served alongside American diplomats, protecting our embassies around the world. We, the Marines and diplomats of the United States, share a special bond in shared service to our country. We couldn’t be more proud to represent our country together. As they did in Saigon, Phnom Penh, Islamabad, Beirut, San Salvador and Nairobi, Marines have made the ultimate sacrifice in the course of their duties alongside us. We could not be more grateful for your loyalty and courage.
On behalf of the State Department, Secretary of State Blinken has sent a message to our diplomatic offices around the world on this occasion, which we have here tonight. In his words, “Marines are a symbol of the American values of integrity, courage, loyalty and commitment. They are the ever-present embodiment of our American values: 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. ‘year”.
Whether on the battlefield, in an embassy or anywhere else, their unrelenting commitment to duty and country is why they have earned their reputation as the most loyal, respected and professional fighting force in the world .
To the Maritime Security Guards at the US Embassy in Tirana: Thank you. I hope you know that every time I walk into our embassy and you greet me, it is a reminder of the great honor and sacred duty we share in serving our country. And I want you to know that when I wave my hand back, it is an expression of my deep personal affection, respect, and gratitude for each of you and for all that the United States Marine Corps has been, is, and will be.
The motto of all marines is Semper Fidelis: “Always faithful”. May God bless you as you keep eternal faith with the United States of America, with the American people, and with each other.
For many years and Always Faithful!