BOSTON -- The past, present and future converged at Boston's historic Faneuil Hall May 19 as retired and current Army officers joined together to usher in the next generation of leaders.

Welcoming 19 new second lieutenants in the U.S. Army, the Boston University ROTC program hosted its spring 2014 Commissioning Ceremony in the same Great Hall labeled the "Cradle of Liberty" for its role in the American Revolution.

"Today, you will accept the responsibility to serve in an Army that is the best Army the world has ever known," said Gen. Dennis L. Via, commander of U.S. Army Materiel Command.

Adding significance to the day, Via, a Boston University alumnus and one of only a dozen four-star generals in the U.S. Army, served as guest speaker and administered the oath of commissioned officers to the cadets.

"Today is an important day in the military careers of these new officers, and having an alumnus be the one to set them off on their way is significant," said Steve Hall, Boston University's vice president for alumni relations. "We're incredibly proud of General Via and all that he's achieved."

Via commended the cadets for their decision to serve, even though they grew up in a nation at war.

"If there's any generation in our nation's history who truly knows what it means to serve in uniform and who knows about the sacrifice it requires, it's all of you," he said. "Yet, you volunteered to serve anyway."

Cadets repeated the oath among a crowd of retired and current military, family and friends who gathered for the event.

Via, who was commissioned 34 years and one day prior, challenged the cadets to be more than just lieutenants, but to become good leaders, stressing the magnitude of the role of young officers.

"Leading and caring for Soldiers is the business of our Army…today, it becomes your business," he said. "Lieutenants are charged with making some of the toughest decisions imaginable, and they are entrusted with the very lives of the Soldiers they lead -- America's most precious resource, its sons and daughters."

Via also shared pointers for success that he said he'd learned over the course of his career. First, he challenged the young leaders to become highly competent experts in their chosen career fields and branches. Second, he stressed always being professional in conduct, appearance, and attitude. Third, he charged the cadets to adhere to and enforce high standards and discipline.

"You are on the front lines of maintaining the standards and discipline that define our Army profession and our Army values," he said.

Finally, Via encouraged the cadets to strive to be good people - kinder, humble in success, hard-working, and ambitious.

"Today, each of you takes your place in that long line of cadets who have served our country as commissioned officers in the United States Army," Via said. "I look forward to serving shoulder-to-shoulder with you -- as a fellow Soldier -- in the world's greatest Army."

The significance of the day was not lost on the cadets, who shared smiles, handshakes and hugs as each pinned on their rank and received their first salute.

"I'm speechless," said newly commissioned 2nd Lt. Michael Myers, an Infantry Officer who will soon head to Fort Benning, Ga., for Basic Officer Leadership Course before his assignment with the 101st Airborne Division. "It hit me when my parents pinned on my bars and told me they were proud of me. Now I'm ready to leave Cadet Command behind and do all the things we've trained for in the bigger Army."