Thank you, Joe, and good morning, everyone!
You – you the Warrior Games, the participants in the Warrior Games – you’re the pinnacle of DoD adaptive sports programs – activities that have helped our men and women heal together…in mind, in body, and in soul. Over the past year, more than 150,000 of our warrior-athletes have participated in 28 sports camps and 51 clinics, and other activities. And over 250 warrior-athletes are with us here this week…to come together, to compete, and to inspire each other…and all of us.
I’d like to thank General Dunford and all of our colleagues in the Marine Corps for hosting this year’s games here at Quantico. And I want to extend a warm, warm welcome to our British friends and allies – to the 40 competitors and their guests and to Major General Cripwell. It’s our privilege to welcome you and our other distinguished guests, including Senator Kaine. Thank you, sir, for being here. And Mrs. Thornberry, thank you…the spouse of Chairman of Thornberry of the House Armed Services Committee. You honor us with your presence – thank you, both.
I want to especially welcome the family members, the caregivers, the medical professionals, the coaches, friends, and countless others who’ve supported our warrior-athletes on their journeys to these games. Those of you out in the risers there. You’re among the thousands who do so nationwide…and this morning, I’d like to publicly acknowledge and thank those caregivers for your contributions. We know, we know you do so much – the love, the encouragement, the support, and the time you’ve given is invaluable – and I’m so glad you could join us today.
But we’re all here because of these incredible competitors…the warrior-athletes competing from our total force, active, guard, and reserve alike – the Army…the Navy – now’s your chance – the Navy…that’s better…the Marine Corps…the Coast Guard and the Air Force…U.S. Special Operations Command…and the British Armed Forces. Each of you has trained for hours to prepare for this competition. And after inspiring us with your service on duty, you continue to do so this week…on the court, around the track, and in the pool.
To our British warrior-athletes friends: even though our countries are competing in these games, we know how well we work together, day in and day out, around the world. And together we’ve met some of history’s greatest challenges, and together we will challenge each other in these Games. We’re grateful for our continued unwavering alliance…and for the enthusiasm you bring to the Warrior Games this year.
To our American competitors: over the next 11 days, we’ll cheer for you – the men and women of the finest fighting force the world has ever known – as you run, shoot, and swim in competition for the prized Chairman’s Cup.
Each of you is a testament to the healing power of sports. Sports provide a place to come together – to learn, to grow, and to rehabilitate. Sports keep us going, they can fuel a sense of purpose, and they remind us that we can get back up, dust off our uniforms, and push ourselves to our limits once again.
As we wait for the torch to light the Warrior Games cauldron, I can see the fire that burns within each of you – a fire to compete, that cannot be extinguished, and that inspires us. As warrior-athletes, you’re proof that our people never give up.
You inspire your fellow warriors. You inspire me – and all who work at the Department of Defense – to do our best to protect this country and to take care of our troops and their families. You inspire your community with your competitive spirit and your dedication to the mission. And, you inspire our entire country to always honor those who serve and sacrifice so much on America’s behalf.
So you – you, our people, are my number-one commitment as Secretary of Defense, and I’m going to make sure our commitment to taking care of you remains as strong as ever. I want you to know that I’m immensely proud of everything you have accomplished, and everything you will accomplish…in these games, and long into the future. And I’ll be cheering for you, and supporting you, all along the way.
Thanks, and good luck!