Wednesday at the Joint Base Fort Myer-Henderson Hall, in Fort Myer, VA, while President Barack Obama spoke at the farewell in honor of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, the largely military audience was notably silent through multiple jokes by Obama, only warming up and laughing near the end of the president’s remarks.
The crowd was silent as Obama said, “I was determined to be here with you this afternoon to honor and celebrate a great friend to me and to all of us. In October of 1967, President Lyndon Johnson traveled to a military base in New Mexico to review a top secret weapons program. And he went down to the White Sands Missile Range and out to the testing grounds. There out in the desert, the president watched as soldiers demonstrated what would later become the famed stinger missile. And one of those soldiers was a 21-year-old private from Nebraska named Charles Timothy Hagel. Now the Secret Service does not usually let me get too close to an active weapons system. It makes them nervous, but clearly they did things a little differently back in LBJ’s days. Chuck, I can only assume you were careful not to point the missile at the president, because what followed was a life of dedicated service to our nation, spanning nearly 50 years. Vice President Biden, members of Congress, General Dempsey, leaders from across this department, and members of the joint chiefs and service secretaries, to the men and women of the greatest military in the world, we gather to pay tribute to a true American patriot, and let me assure you that I checked with the Secret Service and Chuck will not be demonstrating any missile launches today. Chuck loves Nebraska. The Cornhuskers, red beer, brunzas, I don’t know what those are but I hear they taste pretty good. Above all, what Chuck loves about his home state is the people, his fellow Midwesterners.”
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