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Navy Secretary Ray Mabus lauded the Navy and Marine Corps' long traditions of service Thursday in his public swearing-in ceremony at Washington Navy Yard, in which he was welcomed as the top civilian Navy official.
It was an event that demonstrated the full range of the Department of the Navy's capacity for pomp.
Although Mabus has been on the job about a month, the event symbolically marked his return to the Navy and included a band, a review of sailors and Marines, a performance by the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon and two 19-gun salutes.
Mabus praised the Navy and Marine Corps for their "long, unbroken line of heroism," and for their ability to act, rather than react, when needed.
"We do not lie at anchor waiting for the call — for the call is now, and always," Mabus said.
"We're always the away team," he told Navy Times after the ceremony. "We're the cop on the beat."
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who introduced Mabus, praised the new secretary for his "long and diverse record of service," which included service aboard the cruiser Little Rock and experience as governor of Mississippi and as U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
After Gates administered Mabus' oath of office, Mabus gave the order to break his flag.
"Aye, aye, sir — break SecNav's flag," called the master of ceremonies.
Sailors hoisted up Mabus' flag, which includes a white anchor and white stars on a dark blue field. It flew on a yardarm next to Gates', both under the Stars and Stripes. The second of the 19-gun salutes then thundered in the humid air over rush-hour commuters in Southeast Washington.
Early in Mabus' remarks, he mentioned that Thursday's was, in fact, his third such ceremony — after the initial oath he took May 19 at the Pentagon, and then another at the White House with Vice President Joe Biden.
"And so I can tell you, Mr. Secretary, I am well sworn-in," Mabus said.