Good evening President Begaj, Defense Minister Peleshi, and friends – thank you all for joining us in celebrating the 247th birthday of the United States Marine Corps!
We gather for many events throughout the year, but this one is particularly special – and deeply personal – for me.
I was born in Korea and grew up in Guam, both places whose freedom was won by the courage and sacrifice of the U.S. Marines. My fellow Guamanian, Sergeant Spates, can attest that the main road growing up and down our island is named “Marine Corps Drive.” Not a day could – or should – go by without thinking of the Marines.
For 247 years and counting, the Marines have defended our nation. In the words of the Marines’ Hymn, they have served “from dawn to setting sun…, in every clime and place.” Since 1948, they have served alongside America’s diplomats, protecting our embassies around the world. We – America’s Marines and diplomats – share a special bond in shared service to our country. We could not be prouder to represent our country together. As they did in Saigon, Phnom Penh, Islamabad, Beirut, San Salvador, and Nairobi, Marines have made the ultimate sacrifice in the course of their duties at our side. We could not be more grateful for your loyalty and courage.
On behalf of the Department of State, Secretary of State Blinken has sent a message to our diplomatic posts around the world on this occasion, which we have on display here tonight. In his words, “Marines are a symbol of the American values of integrity, courage, loyalty, and commitment. They are the ever-present embodiment of our American values – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”
Whether on the battlefield, in an embassy, or anywhere else – their relentless commitment to duty and country is why they have earned their reputation as the most loyal, respected, and professional fighting force in the world.
To the Marine Security Guards of U.S. Embassy Tirana – thank you. I hope you know that each time I enter our embassy and you salute me, it is a reminder of the great honor and sacred duty we share in serving our country. And I want you to know that when I wave back, it is an expression of my deep personal affection, respect, and gratitude for each of you and for all that the United States Marine Corps has been, is, and will ever be.
The motto of every Marine is Semper Fidelis – “Always Faithful.” May God bless you as you keep eternal faith with the United States of America, with the American people, and with each other.
Happy Birthday and Semper Fidelis!