Pace Speaks for Servicemembers at Vietnam Veterans Memorial
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 11, 2005 Marine Gen. Peter Pace told fellow Vietnam veterans that today's servicemembers value the legacy they have inherited and that they stand ready to do what needs to be done.
Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, served as a lieutenant during the Battle of Hue City in 1968. Today he spoke at a Veterans Day ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, often referred to simply as "the wall," here.
Pace spoke as the lieutenant he once was and the four-star general he is today. He said speaking at the wall "is an intense moment for me both personally and professionally."
The names of all Americans killed during the Vietnam War are etched into the wall's black granite surface. "Like you, I have names in my head," Pace said. "My names are Lance Corporal Guido Farinaro, Lance Corporal Chubby Hale, Lance Corporal Whitey Travers, Corporal Mike Witt, Lance Corporal 'Little Joe' Arnold, Staff Sergeant Freddy Williams, and the list goes on. These incredibly wonderful Marines followed their lieutenant's orders in combat, and in doing so they died for their country."
The general said he is on active duty today because of the debt he feels he owes those men. "I still owe them more than I can ever repay," he said. "But it is my honor to try to serve the men and women whose care I have been entrusted with these past 38 years. So to have this moment with so many of you, to publicly name them and thank them and their families is a great gift to me personally."
Today Pace spoke for the 2.4 million men and women in the military as he thanked veterans for their service. He said it is because of that service that Americans have the freedoms they do. "My Dad was born in Italy," the general said. "There is no other country in the world that gives anyone who comes here the opportunity like this country."
Pace said the fight today is against an enemy wishing to destroy those freedoms and opportunities. He said al Qaeda has written down its goals just as Adolf Hitler did in "Mein Kampf." "You can read what al Qaeda wants to do: They want to destroy our way of life. They want to take away the opportunities for Americans to join together like this and celebrate our freedom," he said. "I'm here to tell you ... that there are 2.4 million Americans who are in uniform today who are flat not going to let that happen."
And those Americans took the same oath "to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic" as veterans have done through U.S. history, Pace said.
The general noted that many of today's servicemembers are in combat. "Those of you who have been in combat know a couple of basic truths," he said. "One truth is that there is fear on the battlefield. Another truth is that those of us who have inherited this incredible legacy from our predecessors fear more that we will let you down or that we will let the soldier or Marine on our left or right down.
"And the fear of letting you down or our fellow servicemembers down or our country down overcomes the physical fear of personal danger," he said. "And American servicemen and women will do what American servicemen and women have always done, which is stand up and be counted and get the job done."
Pace spoke to veterans when he said today's servicemembers "value the legacy you have given us."
"We cherish the freedoms of this country; we will fight for this country until the very last man or woman," he said. "And it will not happen, but in case somebody were able to get past that 2.4 million folks, there are 25 million living veterans in this country who are ready to strap it back on and do what's necessary."