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Attorney General Jeff Sessions Delivers Remarks at the Department of Justice’s Annual Veterans Appreciation Day Ceremony


Washington, DC
United States

Remarks as prepared for delivery

Thank you, Lee, for that introduction, and thank you for more than 30 years of service to the Department of Justice.  Thank you for your leadership at the Justice Management Division and for helping put this event together.           

Of course I also want to thank Rhea Walker for that performance of our National Anthem.           

It is a pleasure to be with you and to join you in welcoming our valued colleagues and distinguished guests as we recognize our outstanding veterans here at the Department of Justice.           

I would like to extend a special welcome to our keynote speaker, my wonderful former Senate colleague Dan Coats.  He is now Director of National Intelligence—once again providing key leadership to the country he loves.  Thank you Director for taking part in this celebration.           

But most of all, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to you, our veterans, for your dedicated service to the Department and to our great nation. That service is demanding and requires discipline, courage and professionalism. 

A few weeks from now, we will celebrate the uniquely American holiday of Thanksgiving Day.  With roots going back to the Washington Administration and even to the 1620s, it’s a day when we stop and give thanks for the blessings we have received.  And in America, we have had a lot to be thankful for.           

We’re the most prosperous nation in history.  We have the oldest Constitution still in use—meaning we’ve had the most durable, stable government and legal system.  We are home to the world’s best educational institutions, the best doctors and scientists and scholars.            
We are truly blessed—all of us, from sea to shining sea.           

But I’d like to suggest to you that our blessings are only possible because of the people we honor a few weeks before Thanksgiving—on Veterans’ Day.  They are only possible because of you. On behalf of the Department of Justice I am honored to say, “Thank you for you service”.           

A few weeks ago, General Kelly gave a moving statement to the White House briefing room.  Calling them “the one percent,” he spoke of our troops as “the very best this country produces.”  He said, “there are tens of thousands of American kids doing the nation’s bidding all around the world.  They don’t have to be in uniform…They don’t do it for any other reason than…selfless devotion to this great nation…not for any other reason than they love this country.”           

I served in the Army Reserves for more than a decade.  I met some remarkable people in the Reserves, many served in combat and I am still inspired by their patriotism to this day.           

Some of you had to leave the comforts of home for a foxhole or a ship.  You had to leave safety for danger—so that the rest of us didn’t have to.            

I’m sure some of you in this room have some scars to show for it—or some scars that cannot be seen.  You gave up much—but you have gained the honorable name of veteran.  And just as no one can hand it to you, no one can take that away from you.           

I am so grateful that you are part of the Department of Justice family.  The 28,000 veterans who serve here continue to make sacrifices to preserve our rights and freedoms.           

After all, the first civil right is the right to be safe. Every other initiative of government depends upon the success of our military and our law enforcement. 

No matter what your role is at the Department, and no matter what your task, it is part of this larger goal of protecting the rights of the American people.  And that’s the same goal you served when you were in uniform.           

That’s one reason why the Department of Justice has made hiring veterans a priority.  We have maintained a Veterans Employment Office in the Justice Management Division to help serve those veterans who wish to pursue careers with the Department.            

In a few weeks we will gather with our loved ones to give thanks for our blessings.  Today, I want to personally thank you for making so many of those blessings possible.   On behalf of President Trump, thank you for your service to this country and to this Department.           
At this time, it is my honor to introduce our keynote speaker, our director of National Intelligence, the Honorable Dan Coats.           

After graduating from Wheaton College—where he met his wife Marsha—he served in the Army from 1966 to 1968. Following his military service, Director Coats received his law degree in 1972.  He went on to work for a life insurance company in Fort Wayne before joining the office of then-Congressman Dan Quayle as a district representative.           

From 1981 to 1999, Director Coats served in the U.S. House of Representatives and then in the U.S. Senate.  During this time in Congress, he served on the Senate Armed Services committee and Select Committee on Intelligence.  He retired from the Senate in 1999.  He served as ambassador to Germany from 2001 until 2005, and he returned to the U.S. Senate in 2011.            

Director Coats was sworn in as the fifth Director of National Intelligence on March 16.  He leads the intelligence community and serves as the principal intelligence advisor to President Trump.           

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming our guest speaker, Dan Coats.

Updated November 2, 2017