ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - More than 750 Soldiers and DOD civilians reaffirmed their respective oaths of service to the nation during the "Why We Serve" program at the Myer Auditorium Nov. 25.
"I consider the oath to be the very foundation on which our values as trusted professionals are established," said Maj. Gen. Bruce T. Crawford, APG senior commander and commanding general of the Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM), who served as host and guest speaker.
The theme for the event was "Restoring our Commitment to the Profession." Crawford encouraged attendees to reflect on what it means to be a trusted military professional. He said that as professionals, it is critical to address issues that weaken the military community, like suicide and sexual assault.
"We have many challenges ahead," Crawford said. "The chief among those challenges is ridding ourselves of anything that threatens our very values and brings discredit upon our beloved military family.
"The oath we all took to support and defend our nation is the very essence of responsibility and accountability … and whether five months ago or 50 years ago, thinking back to the day you took your oath, there was a sense of pride and enthusiasm because you were instantly a part of something bigger than yourself."
At the conclusion of his remarks, Crawford administered the oath of enlistment to four new recruits into the Maryland Air National Guard.
"You really are a part of something bigger than yourselves," he said. "Wearing the uniform and the leadership that goes with it still matters."
The event included remarks from guest speaker Carolyn Collins, deputy director of Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP), Department of the Army, G1. The SHARP program focuses on awareness and prevention, training, victim advocacy, reporting, and accountability.
Collins said achieving cultural change by eliminating sexual assault and harassment is a top priority within the Army.
"Sexual assault and harassment is very much an insider threat in the military," she said.
Program highlights included the presentation of the colors by the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard); opening remarks by Maj. Gen. Peter Utley, commander of the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command; patriotic musical performances from the Team APG group "Togetherness," and a cake cutting ceremony.
"The performance of our duties, as well as our adherence to ethical standards of moral behavior permeates every single aspect of our lives and creates the legacy of honorable military and civil service we leave behind for future generations of Army Soldiers and civilians," Utley said during his opening remarks.
After the event, Daniel Young, who enlisted into the Maryland Air National Guard during the program, said he appreciated meeting Crawford and World War II veteran Francis Sparr.
"It was a great honor, just to be here among these dedicated professionals," he said.
Staff Sgt. Terrence Lewis from the 22D Chemical Battalion (Technical Escort) called the program "exhilarating."
"It helped me remember why we serve," he said. "I enjoyed hearing about the progression of the SHARP program."
Sgt. 1st Class Vernon Walton, from ATEC, said he appreciated the show of support from senior leadership, like Collins.
"It helps to be able to put a face with the name that we see on the memos," he said. "She is supporting our community; that is awesome."
Rosemarie Lamacchia, from CECOM Logistics and Readiness Center, said the program was "excellent."
"I am so proud of our Soldiers," she said. "I love my country."