Somewhat surprisingly, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel tendered his resignation on Monday. He was reportedly forced out. Nevertheless, shortly after the news broke, the president spoke movingly at the White House about his years of public service and many accomplishments.
“Chuck Hagel has been no ordinary Secretary of Defense,” he said. “As the first combat veteran to serve in that position, he understands [its challenges] like no other.”
He “established a special bond” with the troops, he added, reminding the nation that their “safety -- their lives -- have always been at the center of Chuck’s service.”
“I am grateful Chuck has agreed to stay on until I [find his successor],” he continued. “For now let me just say this: Chuck Hagel has devoted himself to our national security and our men and women for more than six decades.”
He also thanked Hagel for accepting the job in the first place.
“We come from different parties,” he emphasized. “But, in accepting this position, you sent a special message: We are all Americans first.”
At which point Hagel himself stepped up to the microphone and said a few words.
“I want to thank the entire leadership team at the Pentagon,” he said. “It’s been the greatest privilege of my life [to] serve with the men and women of the Defense Department and support their families.”
“We’ve launched important reforms,” he added, “reforms that will repair this institution.”
He also invoked his warm relationship with the president and vice president and thanked them for their “leadership and friendship.”
Overall, the mood wasn't exactly cheerful but it wasn't bitter or uncomfortable, either. Both men warmly embraced after the ceremony ended.
Hagel's resignation will take full effect after his successor is chosen and confirmed by the United States Senate.