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Remarks by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross at the U.S. Department of Commerce Veterans Day Ceremony


Good morning everyone. It is an honor for me to be addressing you — America’s Veterans who are working as cherished members of our team at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

You probably are not aware that I personally served as an Army officer myself a long time ago. This shows how — as we go about our daily duties — it is easy to overlook the veterans in our midst.

If you don’t mind me using a metaphor from NOAA, you are like a vibrant ocean current — running just below the surface of our organization — steering it in a positive direction. The skills and attributes you bring to your workplace every day — and to your colleagues and clients — form the basis of the success of our department.

It is important for all 47,000 employees working in the Commerce Department to recognize and celebrate your contributions to our team, and your service to our country. There are veterans in every bureau, and at every level of leadership in our organization. We are impressed by the quality of your work, and by the experience you bring to your jobs.

We know the important role you play in keeping our agency grounded in the values that were instilled in you through your military training and service to our country. You have contributed more to our nation than most anybody outside of your immediate family can ever contemplate, or know. And you are now, again, giving back — working on issues related to assuring the economic security of the United States.

As President Trump and all the members of this administration have noted repeatedly: Economic security is military security. Your contributions to assuring our economic security are as important today as when you were engaged in the defense of our nation. I am proud that you are part of our team. And I hope to impress upon all of our managers how important it is to hire veterans:

  • For your experience and knowledge of global affairs;
  • For your ability to be productive and manage difficult situations;
  • And for your resolute calm in turbulent times.

Veterans know how important it is to have a mentor, and to be a mentor; to lead, and to be led. You know how to anticipate uncertainty, and navigate stress. And many veterans are expert at levity and humor, a necessary ingredient to building teams, and long-standing friendships that are built upon trust.

You know — all the way down to your inner core — what is right for America, and what is right for the American people. You know the importance of being self-directed; of taking action; of getting the job done; of being held accountable; and of celebrating success. You know how to honor your brethren; honor your mission; and honor our flag.

These are the attributes you bring to the Commerce Department. What more can we ask for in an employee?

The Commerce Department has an active Veterans Affinity Group. It promotes the hiring of veterans, and of generating an atmosphere of camaraderie and professionalism among your ranks. To the officers of the Veterans Affinity Group, thank you for the role you play in our department, and for the volunteer work you do to speak on behalf of our veterans. And I encourage our veterans to be engaged with our Affinity Group, both as members and as officers.

Veterans Day was created after the end of World War One, when major hostilities formally ended at the 11th hour, on the 11th day, of the 11th month of 1918. A year later, 99 years ago on November 11, President Woodrow Wilson, created Armistice Day to celebrate the service of our U.S. military veterans. Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.

Today, we honor those of you who have worn — or still wear — the uniform, and have protected our nation both at home and abroad.

If you find yourself in Alexandria, go to the Patent and Trademark building. There is an excellent photographic exhibition of selected objects held in the hands of service men and women. I saw it recently, and I think it will have special meaning for each of you, especially on this day.

To all of our veterans, have a wonderful Veterans Day. You have earned it. We thank you for your continued service to our nation.