Now that the patriotic bunting is put away and the fireworks no longer light up the sky, Americans must return to their daily lives.
Although the fiscal challenges we face with sequestration limit our ability to conduct summer Navy Weeks and Fleet Weeks to which we are accustomed, please rest assured that America's "Away Team" -- the U.S. Navy -- stands the watch.
It is important to remember your Navy ships, submarines, aircraft and thousands of America's finest young men and women are deployed protecting and defending America on the world's oceans. They are standing the watch, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They are on duty every weekend and every holiday, far from our shores, defending America at all times.
Unless you see the Earth from space, it might not be apparent that more than 70 percent of our planet is covered by water. That is why your Navy is uniquely positioned to operate on the world's oceans, protecting America's interests anywhere, and at any time.
When America's national security is threatened by the existence of a weapons facility or a terrorist camp on the other side of the world, your Navy has the ability to deter, counter and, when needed, destroy targets hundreds of miles inland.
Following a humanitarian crisis, like the devastating tsunami that struck northern Japan in 2011 or the earthquake which ravaged Haiti in 2010, your Navy is at the ready, delivering humanitarian relief, ferrying supplies, medicine and trained medical personnel ashore from Navy ships via helicopters and landing craft.
Here at home, your Navy still makes a difference in your life. More than 90 percent of the world's commerce travels by sea, and America's Navy is there, patrolling what is essentially the world's interstate ocean highway system, ensuring the free flow of global trade. Rest assured there are still many products and food stuffs that come from the very heartland of America, but a great number of products you see at any mall or grocery store have crossed a vast ocean network still plagued by piracy today. Simply put, America's economy and that of the rest of the world floats on salt water.
As the world's geopolitical and economic climates continue to evolve, your Navy is there, on the sea, in the air, on land, in space and cyberspace, standing the watch, poised and ready for any mission we are called upon to protect and defend our freedoms and our future.