Following Navy's 17-13 win over Army earlier this month, you may have seen the Washington Post's"Sports Section" on December 9 that carried a photograph of Navy safety Kwazel Bertrand reacting to a fumble by Army late in the game.
Bertrand -- appropriately wearing number 17 -- was captured in that photo running off the field in victory while wearing a patch bearing the seal of the State Department. Naval Academy football players individually choose one or two patches to wear on their jersey for the Army-Navy game. Many players opt for patches with personal ties -- a player may select the unit patch from a ship or squadron in which a parent served, or the patch of a unit to which he was attached during midshipmen summer cruises. Other players select a unit patch to honor an individual, such as a Medal of Honor recipient.
This year, Bertrand, a plebe from Antioch, Tennessee, elected to wear the State Department patch to honor those who serve in the Department and at diplomatic missions around the world. The Naval Academy believes this was the first time a State Department patch has been offered or worn in this historic rivalry.
Commander Odin Klug, who is on detail to the State Department, told me that this "speaks untold volumes about the civilian-military bond that has been grown and nurtured over the years in our great nation."
I couldn't agree more. American civilians are serving side-by-side with their military counterparts in a variety of roles, from our Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan to our NATO Mission in Belgium. They are responding together to natural disasters, such as the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan, and advancing goodwill and mutual understanding through projects like Pacific Partnership.
Bertrand's decision to wear the Department of State patch exemplifies the close partnership between defense, development, and diplomacy that is critical to our national security. By wearing the patch, he honored the women and men who carry out the work of American diplomacy every day. We thank him for this touching tribute, and return his salute with thanks for his commitment to serving our country. We congratulate him and all of his teammates on their exciting win, and thank all the players in the game for their service to our nation.