Georgetown University Honors Joint Chiefs Chairman
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 2006 Marine Gen. Peter Pace received the President's Medal from Georgetown University yesterday for his service as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, displays the President's Medal that he just received from Georgetown University President John DeGioia at the school in Washington Feb. 9. Photo by Phil Humnicky
(Click photo for screen-resolution image)
University President John J. DeGioia said that while Pace advises the highest levels of the U.S. government, the general strives to remember the junior servicemembers who are in harm's way. "He's known danger and sacrifice and loss up close and personal, and he has never forgotten it," DeGioia said following a dinner at Healy Hall.
The President's Medal recognizes individuals in careers of leadership and service that advance ideals and objectives in line with Georgetown's mission, he said. DeGioia also recognized Lynne Pace - the general's wife - for her contributions to the well-being of servicemembers and their families worldwide.
Past medal recipients include former Spanish President Jose Maria Aznar, Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson Jr. and Veterans Affairs Secretary James Nicholson.
DeGioia and Pace both referred to the general's Italian heritage. DeGioia told the group that Pace's name translates to "peace." He said some might find it ironic that a Marine would have the name of peace.
"But I believe most of us here tonight would say it is entirely appropriate, because we know how hard General Pace has worked to achieve a lasting and long-term peace for the United States," he said.
Pace spoke about his family. He told the crowd that his father was born in 1914 in Italy. He spoke about the successes of his siblings: His sister, after receiving a master's degree and having "a great professional life" obtained a law degree at age 64. And both brothers served as presidents of companies.
That the children of an immigrant family could do so well, says much about the United States. "There's no country in the planet that allows that to happen," he said.
And Pace mentioned he had come to the dinner after testifying before Congress. He said that four-and-a-half hours sitting next to the secretary of defense in front of the House Armed Services Committee testifying about the posture of the armed forces of the United States "was an incredible privilege." He said it made him feel proud not only as a first generation Italian-American, but also "as a citizen of this country that I might even be able to be there in the first place."
In receiving the award he also praised the families of those deployed around the world in the person of Sheila Casey - the wife of Army Gen. George Casey, commander of the Multinational Force Iraq for the last two years and a 1970 Georgetown graduate.
Pace said Sheila Casey and her family represent hundreds of thousands of military families across this globe. "She is the model of a military spouse," Pace said. "Our families are incredible. They kiss us goodbye. They sit home and pray.
"And when we get home, they pretend we did it all on our own. When we get promotions or awards, they stay in the background. When we start feeling low, they tell us how important what we are doing is to them and the nation."
He said Georgetown University is dedicated to making a difference in the nation and the world.
Military families make a difference too, Pace said. "So I do accept this award tonight, because military families make a difference, and I have the honor and privilege to represent them."