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 get together for many events throughout the year, but this one is very special – and personal – to me.
I was born in Korea and raised in Guam, both territories whose independence was won thanks to the courage and sacrifice of the United States Navy. My Guamanian friend, Sergeant Spates, can confirm that the highway that runs up and down our island is called “Marine Corps Drive.” Not a day can – or should – go by without thinking about the Marines.
For 247 years and counting, Marines have protected our country. In the words of the Marines Song, they have served “from dawn to dusk…, in all weathers and places.” Since 1948, they have served alongside American embassies, protecting our embassies around the world. We – America’s military and diplomats – share a special bond in supporting our nation. We couldn’t be prouder to represent our country together. As they did in Saigon, Phnom Penh, Islamabad, Beirut, San Salvador, and Nairobi, the Marines have devoted themselves to their work alongside us. We cannot be more appreciative of your honesty and courage.
On behalf of the State Department, Secretary of State Blinken has sent a message to our embassies around the world on this occasion, which we are having here tonight. In his words, “Marines are a symbol of the American culture of loyalty, bravery, loyalty, and sacrifice. They are the ever-present expression of our American values - 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”
Whether on the battlefield, in the embassy, or anywhere else – their unwavering dedication to duty and country is why they are known as the most loyal, respected, and professional military in the world.
To the Marine Security Guards of the US Embassy Tirana – thank you. I hope you know that every time I walk into our embassy and get saluted, it is a reminder of the great honor and sacred work we do in serving our country. And I want you to know that when I return, I express my deepest love, respect, and gratitude to each of you and all that the United States Marine Corps has been, is, and will be.
The motto of every Marine is Semper Fidelis – “Always Faithful.” God bless you as you keep the eternal faith with the United States of America, with the American people, and with each other.
Happy Birthday and Semper Fidelis!