By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
March 7, 2008 - Vice President Richard B. Cheney thanked recruits and sailors at Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill., today for choosing to serve a cause greater than themselves in the struggle against terrorism. Cheney talked with about 4,000 recruits and sailors at the center outside Chicago, where his own father trained for his Navy service during World War II.
The vice president compared today's military members who, like their World War II predecessors, put their own interests aside to serve "when the country needed you most."
"Your presence at Great Lakes proves that you understand the core Navy values of courage, honor and commitment," he said. "And the war on terror is all about those ideals."
The enemies the United States faces despise what Americans know to be right, fair and humane, and serve an ideology that glorifies murder and suicide and shows no mercy for innocent life, Cheney said.
Too many years of too little action against terrorists emboldened them, he said.
"The terrorists came to believe that they could strike America without paying any price," he said. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the terrorists' true ambitions became clear.
"We learned that the global terror network is a strategic threat to this country, and must be dealt with as such," he said.
"So our nation made a decision: to fight and win this war, we're going on the offensive, we'll confront the enemy directly and decisively, and we will persevere until the enemy is destroyed," Cheney said, drawing applause from the crowd.
Cheney credited this approach with preventing another 9/11 from happening in the United States, and said it's important to keep up the pressure.
"A lot of tough work lies ahead, because both sides in the fight understand what is at stake," he said. If extremists have their way, Cheney said, they'll use the Middle East as a staging ground for more attacks on the United States.
"That's a danger we cannot and will not accept," he said. "The war on terror is a battle for the future of civilization. It's a battle worth fighting. It's a battle we're going to win."
Cheney noted the important role the Navy plays in this battle as it projects U.S. power and influence around the world. "With a strong and well-supplied Navy, we can project American influence across vast distances, protect our interests, deliver humanitarian relief and provide a stabilizing presence," he said.
Cheney toured a five-eigths-scale replica destroyer used at the base for training. He observed a simulated missile attack, and saw how recruits train to respond.
During his visit, Cheney spoke privately to about 350 recruits at a "capping ceremony" in which they removed their caps that said "Recruit" and replaced them with caps that said "Navy." The vice president congratulated the recruits, soon to become full-fledged sailors who will carry the Navy forward.
"You'll be ready, because this is the place where civilians become sailors," he said. "And you'll be proudly accepted into the finest Navy in the world. In all that lies ahead, you have my respect and gratitude, and the good wishes of the entire nation."