On Aug. 15, I will join fellow service members as a grand marshal for the Second Annual Atlantic City Salutes America's Armed Forces Parade. Additionally, the Atlantic City Airshow, "Thunder over the Boardwalk," takes place Aug. 17 and will feature Navy aircraft, demonstrating our warfighting capability from the air.
I was born and raised in Atlantic City, and my family still resides in Linwood. Many other sailors and civil servants also hail from cities and small towns in South Jersey. They are highly trained, highly motivated, and courageous war fighters, capable of meeting any challenge. I am honored to represent those sailors, mariners and service members in this year's parade.
Today, less than one-half of 1 percent of Americans serve in the military, and nationwide fewer than 10 percent are veterans. Military parades and air shows are time-honored traditions that also serve as a great opportunity for the American public to interact with the men and women who sacrifice so much to ensure the safety and economic security of our country.
The events in Atlantic City Aug. 15 and Aug. 17 pay tribute to the men and women who serve around the world, defending your freedom and preserving your way of life. I encourage you to join me in this celebration and meet some of your fellow citizens who also happen to wear the uniform. I know that it's a privilege for me to return to my hometown in this capacity.
The United States Navy operates from the world's oceans in nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, high-tech submarines, advanced aircraft, supply and cargo ships, and even hospital ships. We are America's "away team," agile, flexible and deployed around the world to ensure freedom of the seas, fight wars, provide humanitarian assistance and preserve the American way of life.
The value of our Navy is in the numbers: 70 percent of the Earth's surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world's population lives near water; and about 90 percent of all international trade travels by water (approximately $3.5 trillion in commercial goods per year). There's no doubt our nation is a maritime nation, and we depend on our Navy to defend those interests every day. This ability to act from the sea is critical to national security. It gives our Navy the power to protect America's interests anywhere, anytime.
In other words, what happens on the sea is important. It's important to world peace. It's important to our economy and to the preservation of prosperity. It's important to our national defense, and it's also important to the people of Atlantic County. A strong Navy is necessary to preserve the American way of life - your way of life.
As the commander of the Military Sealift Command, I oversee a fleet of 180 logistics and fleet-support ships that are operating today sustaining not just the Navy, but all of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines and Coast Guardsmen deployed around the globe.
We deliver supplies and conduct special missions across the world's oceans. MSC ships move 90 percent of military cargo for the Department of Defense and perform a wide variety of special missions from diving and salvage to special-warfare support to oceanographic survey. We are an agile and adaptable support force, and a large part of our mission is to keep your Navy operating forward at sea.
Your Navy is the No. 1 navy in the world with the best sailors in the world. We are America's Navy, and we are your Navy. It's an honor to serve you.
Thank you for hosting me and my fellow service members during Atlantic City's Salute to America's Armed Forces parade.
Rear Adm. Mark Buzby is based at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C.