Army is Force for Good in World, Rumsfeld Says
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jun. 14, 2006 The U.S. is safer because men and women have stepped forward and joined the Army to defend freedom and to liberate people all over the world, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said in marking the Army's birthday here today.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker administers the oath of enlistment to a group of Army recruits from the Washington, D.C., area during the Army's 231st birthday celebration, at the Pentagon June 14. Photo by Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"In the Army's two-plus centuries, we've come from a collection of militias representing the 13 colonies to the most impressive military force in the history of the world," Rumsfeld said at the Army's 231st birthday ceremony at the Pentagon.
Rumsfeld cited historian Stephen Ambrose, who said that historically, the arrival of armies meant terror and destruction, but the U.S. Army changed that by bringing hope and assistance.
"What he was saying is that the United States Army, while always fierce and formidable to be sure, was something more, even unprecedented," Rumsfeld said. "We were a force for good in the world, he said."
During his years in DoD, Rumsfeld has met tens of thousands of soldiers, he said, and while they all come from different backgrounds, they share a distinctive strength.
"They share an inner strength, a strength that has defined the American soldier for generations," he said. "It's a strength that carried special operations forces along dark and narrow paths in Afghanistan in the mountains, that propelled the 'thunder run' in Baghdad, and that each day inspires personal acts of courage and heroism in the streets and villages of Iraq."
The men and women who serve in the Army are the reason the Army is the preeminent land force in the world, Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey said at the ceremony. Today's celebration was dedicated to the Army's "boots on the ground" -- the soldiers, civilians, veterans and family members who make up the Army family, he said.
"The Army is and has always been a 'people' organization," Harvey said. "And it is the perseverance, dedication and courage of men and women who have answered the call to duty that is key to achieving victory in the war on terrorism."
America is in a critical time right now, and those who serve in the military are contributing to history, Rumsfeld said. He noted that servicemembers' children will be able to look at history books years from now and be proud of their parents' accomplishments.
"They'll remember that you stepped forward voluntarily and raised your hands to ensure their safety and their security in a time of war," he said. "Always remember that our country is safer because you have stepped forward, and we are forever in your debt."
The Army birthday celebration is important because it gives soldiers a chance to reflect on the Army's service to America and it reminds them of lessons from the past that can give them an anchor for the future, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker said. But, most importantly, the Army's birthday honors all soldiers -- past, present and future, he said.
At the ceremony, Schoomaker gave the oath of enlistment to a group of Army recruits from the Washington, D.C., area. After cutting the birthday cake, country music artist and former Marine Josh Gracin performed in the Pentagon courtyard.
In addition, a display was set up for "America Supports You," the DoD program that showcases Americans' efforts to support servicemembers and their families.