<i>Remarks made by Gen. Richard A. Cody, U.S. Army Vice Chief of Staff, to Cadets at the U.S. Military Academy.</i>

38 years ago, I sat where you sit. It was the summer of 1969. Our country had been at war - in Vietnam and with itself - for five years. I left Montpelier, Vermont, where few people understood my decision and some openly condemned it, not knowing what the future held for me, the Army or our Nation.

Back then, this Nation's call to duty was something feared, something dreaded, or embraced reluctantly. Those who chose to serve willingly or who answered the call without complaint, were met with harassment and hostility, only to return to more of the same after a grueling and turbulent tour.

Six years later, as that conflict came to a close, those leaders who remained, combat hardened veterans who still bore faith in this institution and the profession of arms declared, "Never again."

With determination, resilience, and incredible foresight, they laid the foundation and methodically built this All Volunteer Force - a professional, values based institution that could not only look at itself in the mirror, but stand at attention and salute smartly.

The realization of their vision...of their hopes for this Army...is you.

Young men and women whose generation...challenged again by war...with full knowledge of what is asked of you...freely raise your right hand and say, this I will defend....in your time of need, send me.

Young men and women, who, by entering this great Academy say, these Soldiers I will lead with honor and respect.

Young men and women of courage, discipline, selflessness, and patriotism, who by donning the uniform say to this Nation, I will be your shield against the terrorists who want to destroy us.

You are the might...the compassion...the moral compass...indeed...YOU are the STRENGTH...of this Nation.

You are the promise that no matter the disaster, no matter the conflict, and no matter the discourse, this institution will not bend...this Army will not bow...this Nation will not break.

The decision you've made...to be a Cadet...a future leader of the sons and daughters that America entrusts to us...is not an easy one...especially at a time of war.

But it as an important decision, a critical decision...for the preservation of our Army and the indelible idea that is America.

It is difficult...when you are in the moment, to appreciate the moment...to truly understand the significance of your decision, and the decisions of those to your left and right.

But you should take the time to reflect...to contemplate the commitment you and your classmates have made, and be proud of the enduring band of brothers and sisters, selfless Soldiers all...that you have joined.

Because when the history of the Global War on Terrorism is written...when one of you stands here as a four star general many years from now...like the greatest generation of WWII....you and those around you will be known and celebrated as this Nation's STRONGEST generation.

Do not let anyone tell you that your mission is futile...that this war is un-winnable...because, frankly, failure is not an option if we are to remain the land of the free...

...And we will, because this is the home of the brave - each and every one of you.

Anyone can say the words Duty, Honor, Country. Precious few can say...I have done my duty, with honor...for my country...for the Corps!

I am damn proud of you.

Beat Navy!

Page last updated Tue August 21st, 2007 at 18:39