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Myers Receives Eisenhower Award, Says Stakes High in War

By Tech. Sgt. Russell Petcoff, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 26, 2003 – Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers accepted the Business Executives for National Security Eisenhower Award on behalf of the men and women of America's armed forces.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the organization that though he was accepting the award, service members earned it. "This award makes me feel like 'Hot Rod' Hundley, the Lakers basketball player back in the '60s, when he said to Elgin Baylor, 'What a night, buddy! Seventy-three points between us!' Of course, Baylor scored 71 of them," Myers said.

Service members are the ones "doing the really hard work, separated from their loved ones, going into harm's way," the chairman said. "It makes us all, I think, very humble."

Myers, who received the award in New York Nov. 18, said service members "understand the mission and why it's important."

BENS presents the Eisenhower Award to "those outstanding Americans whose contributions to our country best reflect President Eisenhower's definition of security as ' the total product of our economic, intellectual, moral and military strength."

The chairman said that Eisenhower defined the Cold War threat. "President Eisenhower's leadership was so important to our nation because he understood, and communicated, what was at stake 40 years ago," Myers said.

Eisenhower realized that the United States had to have a "firm and fixed purpose" against the communist threat. "Just as President Eisenhower charted our course in the Cold War, today -- against the threat of global terrorism - - we must be just as firm and just as fixed in our purpose," Myers said. "We must be committed, and we must be patient not passive, not panicked. We must be united with other freedom-loving nations and intolerant of any government that harbors or helps terrorists."

Myers said the stakes in the war on terrorism are high, and he likened the threat to the one facing the free world during World War II. He read to the executives a statement by a fighter pilot about why he was fighting.

"He said, 'I would say that I was fighting to rid the world of fear of the fear of fear is perhaps what I mean. If they win the war, only the bad guys will dare to do anything. All courage will die out of this world -- the courage to love, to create, to take risks, whether physical or intellectual or moral. Men will hesitate to carry out the promptings of the heart or the brain, because, having acted, they will live in fear that their action may be discovered and themselves cruelly punished. Thus all love, spontaneity, will die out of the world. Thought will be petrified. The oxygen breathed by the soul, so to speak, will vanish, and mankind will wither.'"

The statement was made by World War II Royal Air Force pilot Peter Pease and told to fellow pilot Richard Hillary. Both died during the war. "I think that still rings true today," Myers said. "That's really why we're fighting this global war on terrorism so the fear that terrorists want to spread doesn't destroy the world where freedom-loving people can flourish."

The chairman said that eliminating safe havens for terrorists is a goal for U.S. actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. "In my view, we have to stay engaged in Iraq until it's no longer vulnerable to terrorists," Myers said. "The Iraqi people were preyed upon by a brutal dictator for three decades. They've been tortured, massacred and silenced through fear. It will take some time for the Iraqis, working with the coalition, to heal the damage."

Iraq and Afghanistan are the most visible battles in the war on terrorism, but there are others, and there may be more to come, Myers said. "This enemy is shrewd and adaptable," he said. "I can guarantee they are looking at new ways to do us harm. So it's important for all of us who understand the stakes in this war to make sure that this nation's will is unwavering. We cannot let terrorist attacks shake our determination to win. Failure is not an option."

Myers ended with a quote from Dwight D. Eisenhower. "'May we pursue the right without self-righteousness. May we know unity without conformity. May we grow in strength without pride in self. May we, in our dealings with all peoples of the Earth, ever speak truth and serve justice.'"

(Air Force Tech. Sgt. Russell Petcoff is the editor of J- Scope, newspaper of the Joint Staff.)

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