Hello, and thank you for joining me, as I explain why I am declaring my candidacy, for President of the United States of America.
I’m Joe Sestak, and I wore the cloth of the nation for over 31 years in peace and war, from the Vietnam and Cold war eras … to Afghanistan and Iraq … and the emergence of China. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, I grew up in this global canvas of service in the United States Navy.
My commitment to service came from my parents. My father was a Dreamer who emigrated from Czechoslovakia as a young boy with his parents. His life is part of the bright thread of immigration that binds our uncommon people, into one common union. He served throughout World War II, from landings against Nazi Germany to Kamikaze attacks by imperialist Japan. He continued his naval service as he raised eight children with my Mom, who also served her country for 30 years in education as a high school math teacher — because education is our real homeland defense.
I learned integrity’s values by my parents living them: service to country, to others … above self … with accountability, in answering for oneself.
It’s how the Navy prepared me for increasing responsibility and command at sea, and readied me for national security and economic policy positions when ashore, sending me for a doctorate in both at Harvard University. In between sea-going tours, I was sent to work for General Colin Powell when Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for politico-military and economic assessments; then, for President Clinton at the White House, to coordinate the Administration’s national security strategy. It brought together our nation’s military power with that of our economy, our diplomacy and the power of our ideals to best advance our peace and prosperity, with that of the world in the new post-Cold War era.
Later, as the three star Admiral in charge of the Navy’s Warfare Requirements, my proposed controversial reduction in ship-levels from 375 to 260 challenged the long-held assumption that numbers were the best measure of military capability. I saw a future owned by whoever best harnessed cyberspace, at less cost – and still do. However, it proved unnerving to the military-industrial-congressional complex, an experience that served me well later in politics when accountability for doing what’s needed would again mean going against ingrained norms — and, again, at a cost.
But there is one norm we are abandoning that is endangering the American Dream.