The Choice to Serve

By Vice Adm. Bill Moran
Chief of Naval Personnel

Last Friday, Navy Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island, commissioned 32 of the Navy’s newest Ensigns from Class 13-14.

Vice Adm. Bill Moran, Chief of Naval Personnel, administers the Oath of Office to newly commissioned ensigns.

Vice Adm. Bill Moran, Chief of Naval Personnel, administers the Oath of Office to newly commissioned ensigns.

As presiding officer, it was my distinct pleasure to speak to a crowd full of proud parents, friends and staff members on hand to see “their” Ensigns take the oath.  Fast forward seven short days, and we will celebrate the 238th birthday of this great nation.  While momentous occasions in their own right, paired together they highlight the ideas we hold dear and keep alive through our continued service.

After having a few days to reflect on last week’s graduation, it was the audience’s sense of pride that struck me most – pride in their loved ones, pride in our Navy and nation, and pride in themselves for the role they played in making the day a reality.

Every commissioning ceremony is a mosaic, a snapshot of our society, molded by rigorous training and careful mentoring. Most have a healthy mix of prior enlisted men and women, professionals from the civilian workforce, and young people right out of college seeking to learn a new skill or trade.

The training they receive reaffirms the principles this country was founded on, it fuels the desire to serve and teaches them by breaking them down, and building a newer, stronger foundation of leadership rooted in individual responsibility and teamwork.

And as we look at the challenges our nation and newest Ensigns will face together, one thing is clear – they are joining the Navy at the precipice of a maritime decade.

A quick read of your Twitter feed or the ticker running across any news channel reminds us that the world can be a dangerous place. Confronting instability far beyond our shorelines has long been a staple of American foreign policy and our Navy remains uniquely equipped to answer this call. Our new Ensigns join a highly capable, technologically advanced Navy, populated by the very best and brightest this nation has to offer. A team united by an oath unique in the history of the world – an oath to uphold the principles of faith, fidelity and freedom – and a reminder that obligation to country goes beyond contract length or personal well being.

Last week in Newport, the essence of service and all of the pride from active and former service members came alive as these 32 Ensigns took the oath.  The look in their eyes was clear: they were ready, ready to join a profession of arms, to take their turn on watch, and defend this 238 year old nation of ours.

Ensign Shane Ralph monitors surface contacts from the bridge of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75).

Ensign Shane Ralph monitors surface contacts from the bridge of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75).

As long as we continue to raise and bring forward such talented and motivated men and women willing to serve, there is no doubt that we will continue to celebrate the “fourth” for generations to come.

Enjoy the holiday and please think of those on watch around the globe.

CNP

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The Choice to Serve