New sub's vital mission
Today, first lady Laura Bush is scheduled to commission the USS Texas, the U.S. Navy's newest submarine, at a ceremony at the Port of Galveston.
This traditional dedication ceremony will be a reminder of our need to be strong and vigilant in a dangerous world, as we will also mark next week the fifth anniversary of the tragic terrorist attacks of 9/11.
We all have memories of where we were and what we were doing when we learned of the attacks in New York, at the Pentagon and on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania.
The memory that will always stay with me is when President Bush visited the Pentagon the day after 9/11 to meet with the secretary of defense, the service secretaries and the joint chiefs.
Bush arrived at a still-burning Pentagon at 6 p.m., and, at that time, we had no idea how many people had been killed or wounded or if further attacks were imminent. The U.S. military was on alert.
The president's demeanor as he walked into the Pentagon meeting room was stern and resolute.
He told us to "get ready" and emphasized that this war would be long and a trying test of our national will.
The president faced us, looking in our eyes, and told us to never forget.
He said, " ... I will never forget the events that happened yesterday. The nation will go on because the nation has to go on; people will need to get on with their lives. But I will never forget, and you can never forget, because we are charged with the safety and security of the United States and for liberty and freedom around the world."
The USS Texas and its dedicated crew will go in harm's way in defense of our nation and its people, and carry the hope of freedom to the far corners of the Earth.
Like our president, the crew of the USS Texas will never forget 9/11 or the crew's vital mission of protecting and defending freedom and liberty and our American way of life with honor and pride.
Our future and the futures of our children and grandchildren depend on it.
GORDON ENGLAND deputy secretary of defense, Washington, D.C.