A couple of days ago, I attended a ceremony hosted by the Association of the United States Army, honoring Senator Carl Levin and Senator Jeff Sessions as this year's outstanding legislators. As part of his acceptance remarks, Senator Levin talked a little bit about the Army and what the Army has meant to this country. Frankly, I couldn't say it any better myself. So I'm going to share with you his comments.

He said: "In the summer of 1776, speaking to the Continental Army, George Washington said that 'The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army.' "The only thing that has changed is that it's now billions instead of millions. It's billions of people around the world who now depend upon the courage and the conduct of the United States Army. Our Army has been a force for peace and justice in the world ... since the beginning of this great republic - you will always be serving in that role. The presence of an American Soldier brings security, stability, and hope to troubled people everywhere - abroad and here at home."

So Senator Levin, thank you very much for capturing the spirit of the United States Army on its 234th birthday.

As we reflect over the course of this week on the sacrifices of our predecessors ... as we celebrate their service and honor the brave men and women serving today - and our Families and Army Civilians as well ... it's important for all of us to remember that our history is indeed a very proud one. At its heart, it is a story of People ... a story of ordinary men and women doing extraordinary things for this great country. It's a story of personal courage, selfless service, and sacrifice by the more than 30 million men and women who have served in the Army of the United States over the last 234 years.

Their service is enshrined in the more than 180 battle streamers that are currently displayed on the Army flag ... from Lexington in 1775 to Afghanistan and Iraq today. The streamers capture the meaning of our service.

As we celebrate this birthday, we also commemorate 2009 as the Year of the Noncommissioned Officer. We'll have a cake-cutting and a swearing-in later to recognize our great noncommissioned officers. Through them, we honor the service of our predecessors and strive to continue their proud legacy as members of the greatest armed forces on earth.

So Happy Birthday, everybody! [Applause]

Now, I'd like to introduce my boss and partner, Pete Geren ... who, in his own fashion, kicked off Army Birthday Week last week by doing a tandem jump up at Fort Meade with the Golden Knights ... so former President Bush has nothing on him. [Laughter] In all likelihood, this will be Pete's last Army Birthday as Secretary of the Army. I just want to take the opportunity to thank him for his leadership and his service to the Soldiers and Families of our Army at a very, very difficult time. We could not have accomplished, Pete, what we've done in the last several years under your leadership, without your leadership. We wish you all good luck and Godspeed ... and Happy Birthday!

Page last updated Fri June 26th, 2009 at 09:20