Rendering honors is a custom that is older than our Navy, and dates back to the early days of military authority. We learned to render honors as a mark of respect, whatever form the honor took.
We saluted the officers, they returned the honor.
We saluted the colors, every morning and evening in port, as the symbol of our country was raised and lowered.
We piped our Captain and more senior officers aboard.
We rendered honor to ships we passed in the channel and at sea according to old traditions.
We awarded medals and citations to show honor, everything from good conduct to the highest awards for bravery.
The highest award our country can bestow on a sailor is the Medal of Honor, an honor so great that it is often earned at the price of one's life.
When we were young, the act of rendering honor could seem mechanical and contrived, something we often treated casually. How little we knew, and how much we have learned. The passing of time has taught us that honor is not a subject to be taken lightly, and that displays of honor, however mechanical and contrived, often transcend our ability to communicate the emotion behind our desire to honor others.
Today, we render honors.
Today, we honor the Honorable William H. Bates, former representative of the state of Massachusetts, for whom our boat was named.
Today, we honor our Honorary Crew Members because they have earned a place among us. We thank you for sailing with us.
Today, we honor our military Unit, because the unit was more than any one of us could be, and we did more as part of that unit than we could have dreamed of doing on our own. We congratulate ourselves, for staying the course, persevering in spite of the opposition, and performing above and beyond that which was required.
Today, we honor our leadership, the Captains, Executive Officers, and Chief of the Boats, who shouldered the great responsibility of taking us deep into the Cold War and bringing us back safely. We thank each of you, COs, XOs, COBs, for doing the job you did, for teaching us what you knew, and for demonstrating for us on a daily basis that leadership was the highest aspiration any of us could have.
Today, we honor our fallen. We lost none to the enemy, none to the sea, but against time and the hand of God, we stand mute and defenseless. Shipmates we knew, worked with, sailed with, fought with, and laughed with. Shipmates prepared to give their lives in their country's defense. Shipmates who would have given their lives for us, had it been demanded, as we would have for them. You have left us, but you will never be forgotten.
Today, we honor you.
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