Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Homecoming Celebration, USS Abraham Lincoln
May 6, 2003

Good morning.

I am deeply honored to be aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln today. Isn’t this a beautiful morning to be coming home?

On behalf of the people of Washington state, welcome home!

I am not the first to say this, and I will not be the last, but from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Thank you for being willing to risk your lives to protect our freedoms.

Thank you for your personal sacrifices and the sacrifices of your families in the name of duty.

Thank you for making all of us proud of you, and proud to be Americans.

You are our heroes.

We will always feel great gratitude for your exceptional example of service to America. You were headed home but turned back when duty called. And you answered the call with courage and relentless hard work.

Jets from the Lincoln dropped 1.6 million pounds of bombs and flew 1,600 sorties in this war without the loss of any lives or aircraft. That’s the result of your training, professionalism and dedication to your noble mission.

You have inspired us in ways we will never forget.

This morning I see in your faces a portrait of patriotism. I will carry this portrait in my heart for the rest of my life.

You have been at sea a long time—longer than any other U.S. carrier in the past 30 years. You’ve been far away from loved ones for far too long. Many of you have missed very significant personal life events serving your country. Birthdays, anniversaries, little league games, music recitals and family weddings.

We can only imagine how difficult that has been, and we appreciate your sacrifice.

And to the 87 new dads here—congratulations!

You have all been profoundly missed—by wives and husbands, moms and dads, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, friends and sweethearts. We have anxiously awaited your safe return, and we’re thankful that you’re back. We are eager to hear your stories.

And we are very excited to celebrate your homecoming.

God Bless you and your loved ones, and God Bless America.

Welcome home.

Access Washington