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Admiral Arleigh Burke Farewell Letter to the US Navy


10 July 1961


There comes a time in every man's life when he must attempt to evaluate what he has done to better his country, his service, his family and his group. This review can very well comprise the legacy a man bequeaths to his successors.

I have now - with more than a twinge of reluctance - reached this stage, and in retrospect I find it impossible to single out any one item which I can truthfully say was exclusively and inalienably mine. This is a truism which most men recognize eventually because they learn that major accomplishments can be achieved only with the cooperation of friends and shipmates.

In forty-two years of naval service I have had a unique opportunity to serve my country which I deeply appreciate. I have also been blessed by the loyalty, support and friendship of the most dedicated people I have ever known, not least of whom is my devoted wife.

Experience has brought me a full appreciation of the prize cargo a man can hoist aboard. To this beloved Navy I do commend:

    Individual desire to excel, not for aggrandizement
    of self, but to increase the excellence of the Navy.

    Devotion - perhaps consecration - to personal integrity
    in oneself, in one's service, in one's country.

    Courage to stand for principle, regardless of efforts
    to dilute this courage through compromise or evasion.

My service life has been rich and rewarding, and no man can ask for more. May you, too, find satisfaction and throughout your careers experience fair winds and following seas.

Arleigh Burke

Published: Tue Dec 02 12:43:15 EST 2014