Myers Tells Cadets 'Sacrifice Part of Job Description'
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WEST POINT, N.Y., May 29, 2004 After meeting midshipmen in Annapolis, Md., and cadets here May 28, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said he believes the military is in good hands for the future.
Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers told graduating cadets during their senior banquet at the U.S. Military Academy here that he can say with certainty "that you will have a role in fighting this war on terrorism."
Myers said the cadets, who will be commissioned at graduation ceremonies today, will have separations from family and they will go into harm's way. "Sacrifice is part of the job description," he said.
The senior banquet was held in the dining facility in Washington Hall. More than 4,000 cadets and their guests attended.
Myers told the cadets to believe in themselves, because "you are the kind of men and women our nation needs right now."
He told them that there has never been a more important time to serve the nation. The Class of 2004 came to the academy in peace and saw the United States transition to war in their first year. He said the members of the class chose to stay, "knowing that you would be commissioned into the Army while this nation is still at war."
He said the academy teaches leadership. Cadets learn the importance of teamwork and integrity. "You pushed yourselves physically and mentally beyond what you ever thought you could do," he said.
And, the chairman said, that experience helps cadets learn the most important principle in the new security environment: flexibility. Myers said cadets have learned to prioritize, analyze and juggle a myriad of tasks.
He used the example of Army Capt. Mike Stanton, a 1995 graduate of the academy who served as a company commander in the 101st Airborne Division in Mosul. Soon after arriving in the city, division soldiers found that some local butchers decided they didn't have to dispose of animal carcasses; they left them rotting in the street. Stanton examined the situation and formed the first butchers' association in the city. The butchers set the standards and enforced compliance.
Myers said there is no "Butcher Union 101" class at West Point. Stanton, though, learned the flexibility needed to come up with that solution.
Myers told the cadets and their families that everyone in America should meet the young men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. "They would be very, very proud of them and what they are doing," he said. "They are doing a fantastic job.
"You are going to have the privilege of being a part of and many other men and women of the nation's next Greatest Generation," he continued. "In return, I charge all of you to take good care of your troops. That's a sacred responsibility."
The chairman said taking care of the troops is more than just seeing to their physical and training needs. "It also means making sure they understand what this conflict with extremism and terrorists is all about, and why the nation and the world require so much of them," he said. "It means taking care of their families, because service is always a team effort."
Myers said that when he was commissioned, he "vowed to give it 100 percent of my effort. I certainly enjoyed the opportunity to spend my career surrounded by people with extremely high standards, a sense of purpose and a very noble cause."
Myers told the cadets that military leadership is a serious business that can literally mean the difference between life and death. "I know you'll accomplish great things -- things that none of us in this room can imagine," he said. "This country is in good hands."