Department Honors Civilians in Pentagon Ceremony
By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 6, 2011 Thirty-nine civilian public servants were honored yesterday for their distinguished careers with the Defense Department at the Spirit of Service recognition ceremony held in the Pentagon’s courtyard.
“These are some of the more tenured public servants in their components, who have more than 50, 60 years of combined military and civil service,” said Michael L. Rhodes, director of administration and management in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. “Through their dedicated work for the Department of Defense, they’ve had a hand in creating the world we live in today.”
Rhodes, the event’s keynote speaker, put the honorees’ years of service in historical perspective.
“Most started their public service before the U.S. military was involved in Vietnam,” Rhodes said. “They served through the tense years of the Cold War, saw the Soviet Union fade as an adversary, and watched the military draw down in the 1990s. Some were in this building when our nation was attacked nearly 10 years ago, Sept. 11, 2001.”
The honorees’ careers spanned a significant time in U.S. history, Rhodes said. Day-in and day out, he added, their dedication did not waver.
“Time and time again, public servants have answered the nation’s call,” Rhodes said. “While the world has changed, their spirit of service remained a constant. Their dedication to service in every job, at every level, is the bedrock of the Defense Department.”
Public service, he said, is the common thread that’s woven throughout DOD, its offices and agencies, and the military services.
DOD civilians’ spirit of service greatly contributes to “keeping this nation safe and protecting our interests abroad,” Rhodes said.
Public servants assisted President Harry S. Truman in creating a unified Defense Department in 1947, Rhodes said.
“For more than five decades, each of the tremendous public servants we’re celebrating today has ensured our military strength and readiness. They meant business and they got business done,” Rhodes said.
“We’re indebted to all our public servants, and the service they’ve given this nation,” he added. “I salute you all, and thank you for what you’ve done.”
Those honored at the ceremony had notched between 48 to 68 years of civil service and each was presented with the department’s Spirit of Service plaque. Afterward, honorees and guests enjoyed refreshments and a concert by the U.S. Army Band.