(Remarks as delivered by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld at the Pentagon, Friday, June 13, 2003.)
Thank you, Les (Brownlee), and thank you all. We’re delighted you're here.
It is a pleasure to celebrate the 228th birthday of the finest Army the world has ever seen.
Today we honor the soldiers who defended our shores and fought for freedom around the world. We remember those who gave their lives in the service of their nation.
The U.S. Army has gone from liberating Boston to liberating Baghdad, from cavalry charges to tanks racing across the desert, from the snows of Valley Forge to the sandstorms of central Iraq, from patriots with single-shot muskets to Patriot missiles downing enemy missiles.
I salute the doughboys, the GI's, the buck privates and four-star generals -- soldiers of all ranks and roles. Our nation would not be here today without them.
Today, I want to salute an Army man who began the transformation of the Army from a Cold War to a 21st century fighting force.
One of General Eric Shinseki's predecessors, General John Wickham, wrote about his job as chief of staff: He said, "Make a difference. The time each of us is `in charge’ is short."
With his energy and drive, General Shinseki made a difference. Earlier this week, he completed his service as the Chief of Staff. We wish both Patty and General Shinseki well, and we thank him for his dedicated service.
Vice Chief Jack Keane will serve as acting chief of staff. General Keane is a man of great vision who understands the Army well and will keep it marching along with precision and skill.
After the new Chief of Staff of the Army is confirmed, Jack has indicated he will stay in place until his successor as vice chief is on board. Jack, we thank you for your dedicated and outstanding service.
Now, it is with great pleasure that I turn to a good friend of the United States military.
As Secretary of Defense, Vice President Dick Cheney presided over the liberation of Kuwait in 1991 and the liberation of Panama from the dictator Manuel Noriega. His calm, cool, unflappable sound judgment has served our nation for many decades now, but none better than during and since the challenges of 9/11, Iraq and the global war on terrorism.
The President, the nation and the Department of Defense are truly fortunate to have him in service again. Mr. Vice President, your leadership, wisdom, and energy are making a difference every day. Welcome back to the Pentagon.