A Nation's Commitment
Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley
Remarks at the dedication ceremony for the Fisher House for the Families of the Fallen, Dover Air Force Base, Del., Nov. 10, 2010
Thank you General Schwartz for that kind introduction - it remains a real honor to work shoulder to shoulder with such a great leader. Distinguished civilian and military guests, thank you for attending today's event, and thank you for your exemplary leadership, and unwavering support.
This is a momentous occasion for our military men and women, as well as their family and friends. For the past 19 years, the Zachary and Elizabeth M. Fisher Armed Services Foundation has offered temporary, convenient and family-oriented lodging at a reasonable cost for the members of the armed forces and their families facing medical crises. This dedication today marks, the ninth Fisher House on an Air Force installation, but the first not designed to assist those battling illness or injury. Today, we dedicate this unique facility to the solemn support of the families of Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors who gave their lives in service of our Nation.
The completion of this unique Fisher House is the final piece of the much larger effort that includes the Center for the Families of the Fallen, which provides a suitable reception area for families as they await the dignified transfer of their fallen service member from the region in which they died, en route to their final place of rest.
Together, this new Fisher House, the Center for Families of the Fallen and the new meditation pavilion, respectfully and solemnly fulfill the Nation's sacred commitment to support the families of the fallen in every aspect of their time here at Dover Air Force Base. Every part of what we do to bring the fallen home, appropriately honors the sorrowful experiences these families face in their early days of grief and loss. Each measure we take, whether or not it helps soften the impact of their loss, is an honorable acknowledgement of our respect, commitment and support. For the families' time here at Dover, each measure we take, each act, each word, reflects acknowledgement of their special bonds with our military. Bonds mutually reaffirmed...they with us, us with them.
To merely thank the Fisher Foundation for their generous and continuing support seems not enough. Mr. Fisher, we owe you and your family an immeasurable debt of gratitude. Since 1991, your efforts have improved the quality of life for our Nation's most precious resource--the sons and daughters of America--during some of their most trying moments. Certainly, this Fisher House here at Dover, touches the family members of our fallen as they face their most trying moment. To have recognized this need and acted so quickly on it, is nothing less than inspiring.
Indeed, the entire Fisher Foundation is inspiring and their excellence unmatched--recognized by the American Institute of Philanthropy as a top non-profit organization providing patient and family support. We are fortunate to have such great Americans as Mr. Fisher and the members of his foundation who have stepped forward--not because they were asked or compelled to do so, they simply thought it was the right thing to do, to help us care for the families of our wounded and fallen.
Although we cannot heal the heartache that family and friends must endure, our hope is that these facilities will provide some comfort to those who grieve for the Nation's fallen heroes. We remain eternally grateful for the service of our fallen comrades, the sacrifices of their families, and the selfless work of the Fisher foundation in their support.
It is now my distinct honor to introduce the man perhaps most responsible for this occasion...a great man, great leader, and great American. Ladies and gentlemen, chief philanthropist and CEO of the Fisher Foundation: Mr. Ken Fisher.