Contact: White House, Office of the Press Secretary, 202-456-2580
10:55 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much. Laura and I are honored to be here to honor our dad. We appreciate you coming. Mother, it's good to see you. Members of the Bush family, all of you, distinguished members of Congress, Governor, ex-governors, the men and women of the United States Navy, military veterans, the workers who helped build this great ship: I join you -- I know you join me in saying to our father: President Bush, your ship has come in. (Laughter and applause.)
In a few minutes, my sister Dorothy will christen the newest and most advanced aircraft carrier in the Navy -- the George H. W. Bush. For the pilots of the World War II generation who are with us today, this carrier may seem a little more inviting than the ones you landed on. As you can see, our Navy has made a few upgrades. The George H. W. Bush is the latest in the Nimitz line of aircraft carriers. She is unrelenting, she is unshakable, she is unyielding, she is unstoppable. As a matter of fact, probably should have been named the Barbara Bush. (Laughter and applause.)
In accord with a long and honored tradition, we gather to christen this fine ship. We recall the service and sacrifice of earlier generations. And we pay tribute to a new generation of sailors and Marines who have stepped forward to serve in freedom's cause.
The George H. W. Bush is named for a man who exemplifies the great character of our country. On the day
Our dad would become known as one of the Navy's youngest pilots. But that wasn't his only distinction. While training along the
After training, he was assigned to a light carrier. He took part in the Great Turkey Shoot of the
One of Dad's most important missions was a strike on a radio tower on an island called Chichi Jima. The Japanese were using that tower to intercept
Japanese boats were sent out to capture him. And after more than two harrowing hours at sea alone in a rubber life raft, he was rescued by the crew of the USS Finback. For his action, he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross. Yet it is characteristic that from those moments aboard his life raft to this ceremony today, Dad's thoughts have always been of the two fine members of his crew who did not make it home: Radioman Second Class John Delaney and Lieutenant JG Ted White. On that day over Chichi Jima, a young American became a war hero and learned an old lesson: With the defense of freedom comes loss and sacrifice.
The George H. W. Bush honors a generation that valued service above self. Like so many who served in World War II, duty came naturally to our father. In the four years of that war, 16 million Americans would put on the uniform. And the human costs were appalling: from the beaches of
From the beginning of that war, there were those who argued that freedom had seen its day, and that the future belonged to the hard men in
The George H. W. Bush will serve as a new generation of Americans every bit as brave and selfless as those who have come before them. The 21st century -- in the 21st century, freedom is again under attack, and young Americans are volunteering to answer the call. In the years since September the 11th, 2001, more than 1.6 million Americans have volunteered to wear the uniform of the
The men and women of the
During his time in the South Pacific, Ensign Bush served on a light carrier called the USS San Jacinto. That ship was named for the 1836 battle of
On this proud day, the children of George H. W. Bush bless their father's name, the United States Navy honors his name, and the ship that bears his name sails into this young century as a symbol of American strength and freedom. May God watch over all those who sail this ship, all those who fly from her deck, and all those at home who pray for their safe return.
It is my honor to bring to you the 41st President, a great dad, George H. W. Bush. (Applause.)
END 11:07 A.M. EDT