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Remarks at the USS Minnesota Christening Ceremony

October 27, 2012

Good morning.  Admiral Donald, Mrs. Roughead, distinguished guests, officers and crew of the USS Minnesota: it is an honor to be with you representing the great state of Minnesota. 

Today’s christening is a special event for my state.

I know Minnesotans will share tremendous pride in the USS Minnesota as it becomes the newest vessel in the most powerful naval fleet the world has ever known. 

Allow me to extend my gratitude to Mrs. Roughead for her leadership in sponsoring the USS Minnesota.  Like Mrs. Roughead and all Minnesotans, we love our state – with its 10,000 lakes and our beautiful forests and farm fields. 

And in the words of my St. Paul neighbor, Garrison Keillor, it is also a place where “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”

Minnesota has a proud tradition of service to our nation. Forty-six Minnesotans have been named Medal of Honor recipients between the Civil War and the Vietnam War.  And, during the past decade I have watched thousands of Minnesotans go off to war in proud and heroic service to our Nation.  I am also privileged to represent surviving “First Shot” veterans of the Pacific in World War II. 

On December 7, 1941, Minnesota Naval Reservists on the USS Ward were on patrol off the entrance of Pearl Harbor when they sank an enemy sub prior to the attack.  These were the first shots fired in defense of America in the Pacific.

The U.S. Navy has made tremendous advances since World War II, and certainly since the last USS Minnesota was decommissioned in 1921.  Today, America’s supremacy at sea is unmatched.  One reason for this is the men and women who planned, designed, and built this magnificent vessel which I can only call a true technological and engineering marvel.

To everyone here who contributed their talents to completing the USS Minnesota, thank you for your dedication, your labor, and congratulations on a job well done.  Today we christen a submarine, but for me this occasion is also a moment to reflect upon the courageous service of the men and women of the U.S. Navy – past and present – from every state and every territory.  Our Nation’s proud naval tradition will live on with all serving on the USS Minnesota.

To Commander Fancher and the 120 officers and crew who will sail this submarine, may God bless all of you.  Thank you for the opportunity to join you this morning and may God always bless our beloved Nation and its people.