"Walk of Thankful Recognition" Event for Memorial Day

Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for IP and Acting USPTO Director Teresa Stanek Rea

Memorial Day Ceremony

Alexandria National Cemetery, Alexandria, Va.

May 23, 2013

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Joe. I appreciate the kind introduction. I also appreciate the great work that you and the USPTO Military Association (UMA) did to put this event together. If I am not mistaken, this is the first Memorial Day event of its kind we have ever held, which I think is a great testament to the work of the UMA and having so many veterans in our agency.

Rows of gravestones in grassy field with trees. American flag in front of stone in foreground.I also commend the choice of holding the ceremony here at the National Cemetery. To quote President Lincoln's words at the Gettysburg Address, "It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this." Like the brave men who died at Gettysburg, their fellow soldiers and countrymen buried here died for a cause they believed in, to leave future generations a world better than the one they had inherited.

It is also worth noting that at the same time these men were fighting and dying, the original Patent Office in D.C.-"that noblest of Washington buildings" as the celebrated poet Walt Whitman called it-served as a hospital for Union soldiers. And during the Second World War, most of the Patent Office was relocated to a tobacco warehouse in Richmond, to provide more office space in D.C. for the massive war effort. Today, the vindication of the sacrifices made in those wars and others-by men, and later women, who nobly served and died in defense of their nation-is everywhere around us.

Just across the street I am facing, there was once a slave market, and across the stream to my left there was once a cluster of villages where poor freedmen lived. Today, instead, surrounding this cemetery are modern buildings, thriving commerce, and citizens of all colors, existing in peace and pursuing their dreams in freedom. We owe that first and foremost to the men and women who gave the last full measure of devotion to make it possible, and to those countless millions of others who made the best use of the freedom so dearly purchased to contribute to the betterment of the world.

Our agency has a small part to play in that noble experiment, as the shepherds of American innovation. And so indeed it is "altogether fitting and proper" that we come here today and pay our respects to the fallen who made it possible. May we always make the most of their sacrifices and never forget them. Thank you.