Hamre Celebrates Gen. Washington, Reservists
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
MOUNT VERNON, Va., Jul. 7, 1998 The U.S. military must follow the example of George Washington and confront the challenges and threats of our time, Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre said during a ceremony here July 4. Mount Vernon, 13 miles south of Washington, D.C., was the home of the former general and president for much of his adult life.
Hamre spoke during a tree-planting commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Gen. Washington's recall to active duty. President John Adams, concerned about threats posed by revolutionary France, recalled the 66-year-old former president and U.S. Revolutionary War leader to active duty on July 4, 1798.
Washington, who died in December 1799, spent the last months of his life rebuilding the U.S. military and preparing to defend the infant republic.
"Two hundred years ago, Washington was called back to service to prepare America's defense," Hamre said. "Today, the American homeland faces a new and different danger. The threat is not from overt invasion, butfrom the sinister dangers of chemical, biological and cyber warfare."
Hamre called these weapons the "poor man's atomic bomb." He said attacks using such weapons are especially appealing to small terrorist organizations that can't challenge the United States directly. "As in Washington's time, America is not yet fully prepared for this new challenge," Hamre said. "We, too, must recognize that complacency and delay [are] dangerous. President Clinton and Secretary of Defense[William S.] Cohen have made preparing the American homeland against chemical and biological weapons a top priority."
Hamre compared Washington's to the role of the reserve forces today.
"Two hundred years ago, America called on its foremost citizen soldier," he said. "Today we are calling on our citizen soldiers in the National Guard and reserves. Homeland defense is in the finest historic tradition of the Guard."
Hamre said the United States is fortunate to have these resources to call upon. "On this day we should especially thank those men and womenwho serve as both citizens and soldiers, Guardsmen and reservists who see a continuing opportunity and responsibility to serve, even as they pursue private careers."
Air Force Gen. Joseph W. Ralston, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Dennis J. Reimer joined Hamre and Mount Vernon regent Mrs. Robert E. Lee IV in planting a tree on the border of the north lawn of the mansion.
Hamre noted that Washington called his trees "the shades of Mount Vernon." He said the tree will serve as a mark of gratitude to a leader who accepted the burden of defending the United States.
"We also place it here to mark our commitment to ensure future generations will live in peace and security," Hamre said. "One hundred years from now, we will not be here, but I hope Americans will gather under this tree to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Washington's act of patriotic sacrifice. And I hope they will also say that we too met the measure of our day, and by our deeds, we too preserved the safety ofthis sweet land of liberty."