Skip to comments.JCS Chairman Salutes U.S. Military, Families, at DAR Event
Posted on 07/03/2006 2:10:53 PM PDT by SandRat
|WASHINGTON, July 3, 2006 Military members serving in the global war against terrorism, as well as their families, are true American patriots, the Pentagon's top officer told the Daughters of the American Revolution here June 30.
Each servicemember swears an oath to the U.S. Constitution upon entering the armed forces, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told 4,000 DAR members gathered in Constitution Hall for their 115th annual meeting.
While deployed to far-flung locales like Afghanistan or Iraq to perform arduous, dangerous duty, those servicemembers "probably are not repeating the words of their oath to themselves," Pace said, "but they know the oath they have taken."
Servicemembers have vowed not only to defend their country, Pace said, but they've also taken a pledge to help their fellow soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines during the thick of battle.
Pace saluted the DAR for honoring the U.S. military. The four-star general said it is also "appropriate that those of us who currently serve in uniformed service take time tonight to thank you back."
"This country is amazing," Pace said in reflection of his 39 years of military service. "Those of us who have had the privilege of serving in your armed forces have some fond memories and some not so fond memories."
Pace touched upon his Vietnam War experiences, noting he'd "lost some wonderful young men" in combat during his time as a young Marine rifle platoon leader. Those fallen Marines "gave their lives for this country ... they'd be delighted to see the patriotism in this room," the general said.
As Pace provided his thanks to the DAR for honoring America's servicemembers, he also asked the organization to remember the sacrifices of military families.
"I know for a fact that when we go off to war, our families wait at home silently and pray that we'll come home safely," Pace said. "And those of us who do not come safely leave a vacancy in those families that can never be replaced."
Servicemembers "who do come home safely stand tall and receive awards," Pace said, while their families "stand in the background and pretend they had nothing to do with it." Military families, he said, remind servicemembers of the vital importance of their duty.
"They dust us off," Pace said, "and they put us back into the fight."
In essence, "those military families who do not wear the uniform are serving this country as well as anyone who ever did wear it," Pace said. "And all of us who do wear the uniform are so enormously proud of them. I wish they could see you, I wish they could feel what I felt when I first walked in here tonight.
"Thank you for all the good works that you do. Thank you for the so many ways that you show your love of this country," the general said. "God bless you and may 115 years from now this hall will be filled again with wonderful ladies like you."
Presley Merritt Wagoner, the Daughters of the American Revolution president-general, thanked Pace for his words, noting his "positive remarks certainly leave us all with feelings of trust and confidence in our military and with a great deal of pride in our citizenship as Americans."
Wagoner presented Pace with the DAR Patriot award, which, she said, "is given to an individual who has exhibited heroic efforts and unwavering commitment in defending the United States of America."
"And, you, sir, not only deserve this award," Wagoner told Pace. "You are the embodiment of its spirit."
Pace responded: "On behalf of your 2.4 million servicemen and women, I accept this on their behalf. Thank you very much."
Gen. Peter Pace, USMC
Daughters of the American Revolution
|WASHINGTON, July 3, 2006 The Daughters of the American Revolution honored two soldiers and the founder of an organization that builds adaptive homes for wounded servicemembers at their 115th annual meeting here June 30.
The evening's events included an address by Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who accepted the organization's Patriot award on behalf of the nation's servicemembers. Later, two special soldiers were honored.
Army Lt. Thomas E. Ceremuga received the Dr. Anita Newcomb McGee Award. McGee, the founder of the 105-year-old Army Nurse Corps, was a physician and director of the DAR's hospital corps during the Spanish-American War of 1898.
Ceremuga is "an extraordinarily gifted certified registered nurse and anesthetist" and an excellent Army Nurse Corps officer and educator, DAR President-General Presley Merritt Wagoner said. Ceremuga is the Army's premier subject matter expert and educator regarding the use of anesthesia to treat wounded soldiers, Wagoner added.
Army Maj. Gen. Gale S. Pollock, chief of the Army Nurse Corps, was on hand for the ceremony. Ceremuga said he was honored to receive the award, noting Army nurses are deployed worldwide in support of the global war on terror.
"Army and military nurses have contributed significant and exciting scientific discoveries," Ceremuga said, "and provide admiral service that directly supports the care of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines as they serve our nation at war."
The DAR honored another distinguished soldier, Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester, with the Margaret Cochran Corbin Award. Hester, who couldn't attend the ceremony to receive her award, is the first woman soldier since World War II to receive the Silver Star Medal for valor.
Hester's squad was accompanying a supply convoy in Iraq on March 20, 2005, when insurgents launched an ambush. Hester, a Kentucky National Guard soldier, led her squad in a successful counter attack, killing three insurgents with her rifle. Two other members of Hester's unit also received the Silver Star for their actions that day. Hester, a member of the 617th Military Police Company, was 23 years old at the time of her heroics.
The DAR also recognized America Supports You member John S. Gonsalves, the 40-year-old founder and president of "Homes for Our Troops" based in Tauton, Mass. He received the DAR's Medal of Honor. Gonsalves' nonprofit organization provides specially equipped homes for wounded servicemembers. His organization is part of the Defense Department's America Supports You program, which assists U.S. servicemembers and their families in myriad ways and spotlights the support they enjoy from the American public and the nation's corporate sector.
Gonsalves, a former contractor, told American Forces Press Service that he was "just thrilled" to receive the DAR award.
"I never expected to get something quite like this," he said, noting the honor "is very humbling."
Gonsalves said "Homes for Our Troops" has committed to build 20 homes for wounded servicemembers, with seven completed.
"Supporting our troops is something that's been going on since the Revolutionary War," Gonsalves said. "And, I think that there's been times in our country's history where the support wasn't quite up to par."
U.S. servicemembers serving in the global war against terrorism definitely need the support of the American public, Gonsalves said.
"I like to think that there are two kinds of people out there -- those who serve and those who support," Gonsalves said. "Maybe not everyone can serve in the military, but everybody can certainly support them."
The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution was founded in 1890 to promote patriotism, preserve American history, and support better education for America's children. Its members can trace their lineage back to the patriots who won American independence during the Revolutionary War. The DAR is one of the world's largest service organizations, with 168,000 members and 3,000 chapters worldwide. The organization publishes the magazine, "American Spirit."
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