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2005 - Top Military Officer Accepts Award "On Behalf of the 2.4 Million Americans Who Serve This Nation"

Remarks Upon Receipt of JINSA’s Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson Distinguished Service Award by General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

December 12, 2005 - Washington, D.C.

When I was a second lieutenant I remember promising myself that I would never ever accept an award that I had not earned. I've learned over time that this is a team effort, and I've learned two other things. First is that if you tell somebody how you expect them to act, chances are he or she will have a better chance of acting that way. So I accept this award in one part prospectively as the way you all expect me to act as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

General Pace delivering his acceptance address upon receiving JINSA’s Henry M. Jackson Distinguished Service Award.General Pace delivering his acceptance address upon receiving JINSA’s Henry M. Jackson Distinguished Service Award.

Second, and more importantly, there are 2.4 million Americans - Active, Guard and Reserve - who serve this Nation tonight. They have earned this award and it is my great honor on their behalf to accept it for them. I want to say something that's going to sound like bragging, but I want to say it for a purpose. The Armed Forces of the United States of America are the finest armed forces this planet has ever known. The reason for that, or the reasons for that are many. First and foremost are the troops, and I'll come back to that in a minute.

In this room are many other reasons why that is true. We have great training; we have great discipline; we have incredible individuals, but we also benefit from an industry base that produces the world's finest instruments of military use, whether it be satellites or tanks or airplanes or you name it. You all in this room who go to work every day to provide to us the tools - preferably to use in deterrence, but as needed to be used to protect our Nation - we thank you for what you provide to us to do what we all do for our Nation.

The other part is that as good as we are, there is no nation in the world that is so big or so powerful that it can do anything all on its own. In this long, global War on Terrorism, we all need as many friends as we can find. No nation is so big that it can do it on its own, and no nation is so small that it cannot contribute in a strategically important way. And in this room tonight are many, many of our Coalition partners, and we are proud to stand next to you, we are proud to call you friends. We very deeply appreciate what you do with this and this would be a very, very lonely exercise if it weren't for your friendship, your determination, and your steadfastness next to us. Thank you very much.

Our troops are simply incredible. We heard about six of them tonight. I don't know where we find men and women like this, but it gives my mornings and my afternoons focus and purpose. If you were as touched tonight as I have been just listening to the Reader's Digest version of what these great Americans who walked across the stage have done for us, you'll understand how proud I am to go to work every day to try to do all that I can possibly do to ensure that they are properly supported and led as they go forth and do what they do.

For those of you who have had the great privilege of visiting our troops overseas, you know they get it. If you want proof, just look at the reenlistment statistics. The folks in Afghanistan and Iraq are reenlisting in greater numbers than any other part of the Armed Forces, and our Armed Forces are reenlisting in greater numbers than historically we have needed to sustain the force.

I need your help. Those who join the Armed Forces and serve are staying because they get it and they know what it's all about. Right now across America we have leaders, families, individuals who believe that what they see on television is what's happening 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Now the fact is that there are bombs going off, and the fact is that there are people getting killed, but it's also a fact that a vast majority of our Service men and women are doing their job in an extremely credible, honorable way, serving their country, and coming home to live in the freedom that they have earned for themselves and their families. I would ask you tonight to take the opportunity to reach out to those who are mentors, to those who are leaders, and together with them to let our young people know what great honor there is in serving their country: not only in uniform, but in many other ways. If all of our youth were led to believe and to understand the great honor that it is to serve, for a part of your life, a country that has given you all you have, it would be a wonderful gift that we could give to them. I ask you to help me in passing that word to our young folks.

Lastly, just for a minute on our families. They are the most precious gifts that any of us in uniform have. I know that Sergeant First Class Smith heard his wife's words tonight. I don't know if he had tears in his eyes. I had them in mine. That his wife, the mother of his children, could stand in front of an audience like this and speak the words she spoke says everything that any of us need to know about the love and support that all of us in uniform have from our families. Birgit - God bless you. Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for your service to your country. And we hope that your children grow up knowing what a true hero not only their father is, but their mother as well.

I'll end where I started, to say thank you so much to JINSA. To receive an award named after Senator Jackson is something that I certainly never thought would happen. My dad, living in Italy, never thought it would happen. My mom's probably saying, "It's about time." Seriously, I could not ever seek a greater honor than to be here with you, to be in this room full of patriots - patriots of the United States and many, many other countries, and I won't start naming them because if I do I'll forget somebody. But a room full of patriots, who love their country, love our freedoms, and collectively stand and say to the world - we will defend this freedom.

Thank you.

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