The Fort Bliss community and visitors withstood the deluge of rain that flooded the Army Community Covenant signing ceremony at Cohen Stadium in El Paso on July 9. "The community covenant reaches out broadly; we want to embrace the communities we're in," said Nelson M. Ford, acting under secretary of the Army. "It's critical the Army shows the communities we live in this relationship between the community and the Army." The covenant is a commitment between the Army and the local communities surrounding Fort Bliss to support military members and families stationed here. In spite of several days of continuous rain and flash floods, the El Paso Diablos hosted the Military Appreciation Night and the covenant signing. With glimpses of blue sky peeking through the dreary day the scheduled program originated outside on the baseball diamond. Just as the Fort Bliss color guard turned onto the field to present the colors; rain cascaded down in sheets, soaking spectators and the signers of the covenant, who were already positioned on the field in front of the catcher's mound. Umbrellas magically appeared to protect and shield the four copies of the Army Community Covenant with El Paso and the dignitaries. But as soon as the Fort Bliss 62nd Army Band finished playing the national anthem; people streamed from the field and bleachers to mingle on the canopied concession level. "The rain today symbolizes the good luck for the future growth of the community of El Paso," said Maj. Gen. Howard B. Bromberg, Fort Bliss commanding general. "The community here is very positive, it's a wonderful community. I'm really excited about the opportunities we have." As the game was held for the first weather delay of the evening, the official signing party proceeded to the Diablos' Hall of Fame overlooking the first base line. The ceremony commenced when all endorsers had convened and the covenants were dried off. Signers of the covenant not only included Ford; Bromberg but John F. Cook, mayor of El Paso, Texas; SMA Kenneth O. Preston, Sgt. Maj. of the Army; Raymond G. McGrath, U.S. consulate general in Juarez, Mexico; Susana Chaparro, the wife of Kenneth D. Miyagishima, mayor of Las Cruces, N.M.; Steve Brockett, mayor of Alamogordo, N.M.; Staff Sgt. Charles Wyant, with 3rd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery at Fort Bliss; Cindy Ramos-Davidson, chief executive officer of the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Richard E. Dayoub, president and chief executive officer of the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce and Gustavo J. Rodriquez, Jr., president of the Omar N. Bradley Chapter, Association of the United States Army (AUSA). "The city of El Paso and the Fort Bliss community have a lot to offer each other; not just economics but in culture," said Wyant. "The Army is very diverse and the population diversity in El Paso is good for the bonds it creates with Soldiers." He represented the Fort Bliss Soldiers during the signing ceremony, said his family has been stationed in El Paso previously and were happy to return to such a welcoming community. Cook said many military families have told him that there is no city like El Paso. "No community greets them and makes them feel welcome like El Paso does," he said. "It's a community effort. I don't know of any other community around the country that does what El Paso does to make Soldiers and families feel welcome." The neighborhood pledge is to support those who serve their country and states that the signers will work together to build strong communities. It reads: We, the community recognize the commitment Soldiers, other Service Members and their families are making every day. The strength of Soldiers and other Service Members comes from the strength of their Families. The strength of families is supported by the strength of the community. The strength of the community comes from the support of employers, educators, civic and business leaders and its citizens. We, the community, are committed to building partnerships that support the strength, resilience and readiness of Soldiers, other Service Members and their families. Assisting in the implementation of the Army Family Covenant. During the water logged ceremony, Ford also received an El Paso star plaque from the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce and the Milagro Cross from the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Several local companies kicked off the AUSA Adopt-A-Unit program by sponsoring Fort Bliss' 3rd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery and 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division. The multiple days of monsoon-inspired rain did cause a few cancellations to the programming. Original plans included rappellers diving from a UH-60 Blackhawk hovering over the stadium to deliver the signing documents; a joint color guard comprised of Fort Bliss Soldiers, El Paso Fire and Police Departments; a slideshow depicting Fort Bliss Soldiers interacting with community members and more than 100 local students to serve as ushers, covenant signer assistants and Diablos baseball buddies. The signing dignitaries also would have thrown the first pitch of the game and after the seventh inning, 70 recruits were going to enlist in the Army. The subsequent rounds of rain caused additional weather delays and eventually the Diablos game was cancelled but spirits remained high. "No doubt we are going to succeed in everything we endeavor to do here, based on the tremendous support; everything you've done to date and will continue to do in the future," said Bromberg. -30-