Last weekend, US Embassy Sweden celebrated our US Marine detachment, and the service of the Corps worldwide. The Sheraton in Stockholm just sparkled, and a wonderful night of dancing, really good food and terrific friendship was had by all. I just loved the vibe of the night, which was so positive and joyful. The spirit of this year’s Marine Ball was something to behold and is deserving of a huge Ooo-Rah! Below is the beginning of the speech I gave, which conveys my deep conviction that the US Marines and our Marine detachment in Stockholm are deserving of our utmost gratitude:
“Distinguished Guests, Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Earlier this year, almost one month before he made his historic visit to Sweden, President Barack Obama was in Camp Pendleton, California, visiting the US Marines. President Obama had this to say when thanking the troops and their families for their extraordinary service to our nation:
“[There’s an] ethic of your lives: Always faithful. Always faithful to each other — the few and the proud. Always faithful to your Corps …. Always faithful to your country, for whom you wear the eagle, globe and anchor. After all you’ve given to our nation, you have to know your nation will always be faithful to you. “
I want to begin with President’s Obama’s words, because indeed the US Marines have a special comradeship, a unique bond. And as beneficiaries of your duty and sacrifice, we Americans have a responsibility to honor that.
So tonight we stand together – Swedes, Americans, friends, a community – to celebrate you, the Marines.
I’ve really been looking forward to our Marine Ball because to me public service is the highest form of living.
It’s something I respect so much, and in me there’s always been a little pang of wishing I had served in the military.
And when it comes to our Marines, the finest expeditionary force in the world, look at any American engagement around the world that requires a heavy lift. Our Marines are likely there.
They are the first in, and last out. Just this week the US Marines deployed to aid the Philippines recovery. In places like Haiti, Indonesia, Japan and elsewhere, American men and women in uniform help those who have lost loved ones and property to rebuild their lives.
At the US Embassy in Stockholm, we are proud to serve with six Marines.
I knew before landing in Stockholm two years ago, that I would have an instant connection with these young yet profoundly mature men and women, who’ve taken on enormous responsibility at a young age.
This year I have worked out with them, gone running with them and done cross training, I’ve gone shooting with them on the range. We’ve celebrated Thanksgiving away from home, farewells and arrivals, making memories together as an Embassy family.
Any chance I have to walk in their shoes, shoulder to shoulder with them, I grab, because it makes me a better man.
Why is that?
Because there are values the Marines live by which are relevant to us all. And that I personally try to emulate every day. These are values I grew up with in my own family, where military service is always held up as the pinnacle of public service. These are values which inform how I operate here in Sweden.
As Chief of Mission, I take the responsibility President Obama gave me extremely seriously. And I often find myself when different questions or conundrums surface, reflecting on the values of the US Marines.
There’s a book entitled Leading from the Front, written by two former female Marines (Courtney Lynch and Angie Morgan), that crystallizes some of the values and practices that the authors draw from their years in the Corps but which are pertinent in life. “Leading from the front” literally means having high standards, and that those standards start with you. But it’s about integrity, having a higher purpose than oneself:
· The iron-clad concept of “the Team”: meaning one for all, all for one. Taking care of your team so they take care of you.
· Respond without over-reacting. Staying cool while dealing with crisis.
· Having the courage to achieve your goals.
· Being defined by your actions, not your words.
Now let me tell you about our Marines at the US Embassy and how each of them lives these values every day…”