The Association of the United States Army will present its highest award – the George Catlett Marshall Medal – to the American Soldier.
The medal, presented annually to an individual for “selfless service to the United States of America,” will be awarded Oct. 27 at a special ceremony held during the George Catlett Marshall Memorial Dinner, the concluding session at AUSA's three-day 50th Annual Meeting and Exposition – A Professional Development Event.
The Association's Annual Meeting, Oct. 25-27, will be convened at the Washington Convention Center.
“Since the soldier was born and the Army was founded on June 14, 1775, the American Soldier has successfully fought this nation's wars from Valley Forge to Fort McHenry, Veracruz to Antietam, San Juan Hill to Argonne-Meuse, the beaches of Normandy to Pork Chop Hill, la Drang Valley to Kuwait, the Shah-i-Kot mountains to Baghdad – from the Revolutionary War to the Global War on Terrorism,” Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA, Ret., the Association's president said.
Sullivan added, “Our Council of Trustees has selected the “Patriot of Patriots” to be this year's Marshall Medal recipient.
“We are proud of our men and women of all components – active Army, Army National Guard, U.S. Army Reserve, retirees and veterans – citizen-soldiers who have served and have sacrificed to keep our country and our citizens free since before our nation fought and won its independence.”
Today, soldiers from America's Army – deployed to 120 countries around the world – continue the legacy established in the Massachusetts Colony when the Continental Congress first raised regiments of the Continental Line --“expert riflemen” -- and commissioned George Washington to assume command of the new Army and the Colonial Militia engaged in the siege of Boston.
These vanguards of freedom, who left their farms and families to take up arms for liberty and justice, became the “essence of the Army,” the undisputable, value-based force that today is moving into the 21st century – warriors “trained and ready, tough, brave, and dedicated to selfless service to our nation,” the medal's citation reads.
Recalling that no symbol conveys this message better than the monument at the center of the National Cemetery at Antietam where a large statue of a soldier stands on a pedestal that has a simple inscription: “Not for themselves, but for their country,” the citation says: “That basic value of service to nation is central to our soldiers in uniform today.”
Quoting Gen. George S. Patton Jr., the citation cites the famous general's appraisal of the American Soldier: “The soldier is the Army. No army is better that its soldiers. The Soldier is also a citizen. In fact, the highest obligation and privilege of citizenship is that of bearing arms for one's country.
“Hence it is a proud privilege to be a soldier – a good soldier … [with] discipline, self-respect, pride in his unit and his country, a high sense of duty and obligation to comrades and to his superiors, and a self confidence born of demonstrated ability.”
“Those 'expert riflemen,' the first soldiers of America's Army who fought bravely at the Battle of Lexington Green – the start of the Revolutionary War – and who fired 'the shot heard 'round the world,' are the same men and women who today are firing shots around the world -- and have again answered the call to arms to defend and protect the United States of America,” Sullivan said.
Adding, “175 battle streamers are part of our Army's flag. Each streamer represents the sacrifices -- many times the supreme sacrifices – our soldiers have made for 229 years in preserving peace and the American way of life. The American Soldier is the essence of our Army and our nation.”
For further AUSA Annual Meeting information and the George Catlett Marshall Memorial Dinner and award presentation, visit the Association's 2004 Annual Meeting web site.