During his last full day as Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates will send out this farewell message to "all U.S. military personnel, active and reserve, around the world" today:
TO THE MEN AND WOMEN OF THE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES: TOMORROW, 30 JUNE 2011, I WILL RETIRE AS SECRETARY OF DEFENSE. IT HAS BEEN THE GREATEST HONOR OF MY LIFE TO SERVE AND TO LEAD YOU FOR THE PAST FOUR AND A HALF YEARS.
ALL OF THAT TIME WE HAVE BEEN ENGAGED IN TWO WARS AND COUNTLESS OTHER OPERATIONS. IT HAS BEEN A DIFFICULT TIME FOR YOU AND FOR YOUR FAMILIES, FROM LONG AND REPEATED DEPLOYMENTS FOR THOSE IN ALL FOUR SERVICES – AND THE ASSOCIATED LONG SEPARATIONS FROM LOVED ONES – TO THE ANGUISH OF THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE LOST FRIENDS AND FAMILY IN COMBAT OR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE SUFFERED VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE WOUNDS OF WAR YOURSELVES. BUT YOUR DEDICATION, COURAGE AND SKILL HAVE KEPT AMERICA SAFE EVEN WHILE BRINGING THE WAR IN IRAQ TO A SUCCESSFUL CONCLUSION AND, I BELIEVE, AT LAST TURNING THE TIDE IN AFGHANISTAN. YOUR COUNTRYMEN OWE YOU THEIR FREEDOM AND THEIR SECURITY. THEY SLEEP SAFELY AT NIGHT AND PURSUE THEIR DREAMS DURING THE DAY BECAUSE YOU STAND THE WATCH AND PROTECT THEM.
FOR FOUR AND A HALF YEARS, I HAVE SIGNED THE ORDERS DEPLOYING YOU, ALL TOO OFTEN INTO HARM'S WAY. THIS HAS WEIGHED ON ME EVERY DAY. I HAVE KNOWN ABOUT AND FELT YOUR HARDSHIP, YOUR DIFFICULTIES, YOUR SACRIFICE MORE THAN YOU CAN POSSIBLY IMAGINE. I HAVE FELT PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR EACH OF YOU, AND SO I HAVE TRIED TO DO ALL I COULD TO PROVIDE WHATEVER WAS NEEDED SO YOU COULD COMPLETE YOUR MISSIONS SUCCESSFULLY AND COME HOME SAFELY – AND, IF HURT, GET THE FASTEST AND BEST CARE IN THE WORLD.
YOU ARE THE BEST THAT AMERICA HAS TO OFFER. MY ADMIRATION AND AFFECTION FOR YOU IS WITHOUT LIMIT, AND I WILL THINK ABOUT YOU AND YOUR FAMILIES AND PRAY FOR YOU EVERY DAY FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. GOD BLESS YOU.
Every day we ask influential politicos to send us their top three bullet points that are driving the day's conversation inside and outside Washington.
RedState.Com Editor Erick-Woods Erickson:
– The President says he doesn't want to engage in scare tactics on the debt ceiling, but he says food inspections may suffer if we don't raise taxes and wants to know if we really want to pay the Chinese, not seniors if we don't raise the debt ceiling. No demagoguery there.
– Funny how the President would comment unequivocally about the constitutionality of DOMA, but not on Libya.
– The President was perfectly willing to lecture the Supreme Court, a separate branch of government, during a State of the Union speech, but he punted on taking a position on the NLRB's attack on Boeing, despite it being an agency within the executive branch.
Firedoglake.com Blogger/Founder Jane Hamsher:
Editor’s Note: The blog is a place for a freewheeling exchange of ideas and opinions. CNN does not endorse anything said by its contributors.
It's a Boy! In case you didn't hear, Chief National Correspondent John King and Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash welcomed son Jonah Frank King into the world yesterday. Jonah arrived just in time to watch his dad's show. We are excited to have a new member of the family here at John King, USA!