Indianapolis Motor Speedway Joins America Supports You Team
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May. 23, 2005 Indianapolis Motor Speedway was awash in patriotism May 22, just one week before 33 IndyCar drivers take to the oval in the annual Indianapolis 500 race.
Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar administers the Oath of Enlistment to a group of 56 new recruits in the winner's circle at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 22. Photo by Samantha Quigley
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Armed Forces Day at the home of the "greatest spectacle in racing" included more than just military displays near the speedway museum.
During an enlistment ceremony held in the winner's circle at the historic brickyard, Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs (internal communication and public liaison), welcomed the speedway to the "America Supports You" team.
America Supports You is a Defense Department program that seeks to focus public support for the men and women in the military.
Barber told the crowd that the morale of the men and women of the military is based on the support they feel from the home front.
"So today is a celebration of a new partnership with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the America Supports You program," Barber said. "It's also an invitation to the Hoosiers and to all Americans, asking you to log on, join the America Supports You team, show your support to our men and women in the military."
While the ASY team gained a new team member, the armed services were the day's big gainers: 56 new servicemembers. During the event, Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar administered the Oath of Enlistment to the recruits.
Barber commended the individuals for their commitment. She also compared them to the racecar drivers who will take to the track during the 89th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 29.
The racers' success "is based on their personal effort and the support they receive from the pit crew," she said. "When you defend our country," she told the recruits, "your success is based on your personal effort and the support you get from the pit crew -- the American people.
"And it's important for you to know that America does support you," Barber continued.
Since the first Indianapolis 500 race in 1911, the speedway has worked to honor the men and women of the military, Tony George, Indianapolis Motor Speedway's chief executive officer, said. George also noted that the Indianapolis 500 has always been tied to the Memorial Day tradition.
"I'd like to congratulate all of you," George told the new recruits. "Along with Gov. Mitch Daniels and the entire state of Indiana and its people, we want to send you on your way with our best wishes."
Speedway officials have made arrangements for the Indianapolis 500 to be broadcast live in Iraq via a two-way video feed to Baghdad's Camp Victory. The race will also be shown on military television networks at bases around the world, George said.
"We're proud to have our fighting men and women in Iraq, as well as other places around the world, watching live and participating in the broadcast," he said. "We're proud of all of you. And America supports you."
Lugar said the May 22 event was special because it celebrated both those who have served the country and those who will serve the country. He acknowledged difficult times facing the armed forces today, noting that the areas where Americans are in harm's way are "legion" and the number could grow.
"Yet these young people have come forward as Hoosiers to say they want to serve," Lugar said. "They want to serve their country. They want to serve all of us who are fortunate enough to have seen them grow up in our communities with good parents, good schools and a background of patriotism."
The event included a joint-service color guard, an F-16 fighter jet flyover by the 181st Fighter Wing of the Indiana Air National Guard, and a medley of service anthems by the Indiana Army National Guard's 38th Infantry Division Band. Barber also presented the new recruits with the America Supports You program's signature dog tags.
Brittany Wick, 17, a new Indian Army National Guard soldier, said she thought the ceremony was great. "It was an honor and a privilege to see everybody here and be one of the ones who got to come (and participate)," she said.
Wick, from Greenwood, Ind., is a junior at Whiteland High School. She will complete her basic training this summer and her advanced individual training next summer, after graduating from high school.
She said she felt a strong pull to serve her country. Wick's mother and father were both in the Army, and her mother and stepfather are currently both in the Air Force. "I felt that I needed to (serve)," she said.
Jason Barlow, a new Marine recruit, agreed that the ceremony at the speedway was something special. "This was fun," he said. "Just having everybody else here (and) knowing that this was a lot bigger than (the recruits)."
A native of the Indianapolis area, 18-year-old Barlow will leave in June for basic training in San Diego. He is currently set to go into diesel mechanics but is "looking into a couple of other things too," he said.
Marli Marquart, 18, from the Goshen, Ind., area, said the day "definitely felt special." She cited the chance to talk to Lugar, Barber and other dignitaries. The new Coast Guard recruit was even more excited to see Indianapolis Motor Speedway firsthand.
"I've always wanted to come here," she said.