By Carolyn EricksonNovember 25, 2008
FORT LEONARD WOOD, MO. - Family, friends and distinguished guests overflowed available seating to attend the Army Community Service building memorialization ceremony in memory of Honorable Mel Carnahan, September 5.
Mel Carnahan died in a plane crash, Oct. 17, 2000, while serving his third term as Missouri governor.
Speakers at the ceremony included Maj. Gen. William McCoy, Maneuver Support Center and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general; U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo.; former U.S. Senator Jean Carnahan, Melvin's widow; and U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-Mo., Melvin's son.
Skelton shared a conversation he had with a professional football quarterback, who told Skelton that "fame is fleeting."
"Great leaders who perform great deeds should be remembered," Skelton said, "and today, we are doing such an act of remembrance. So that in the case of governor and friend Mel Carnahan, fame will not be fleeting, for his name will be attached to a building that brings a lot of help to our families of those who serve."
Skelton shared how Carnahan helped Fort Leonard Wood adapt and adjust to moving the chemical and military police schools to the installation from Fort McClellan, Ala.
Skelton continued by addressing Mel Carnahan's character, saying "his life read like a storybook."
"He was a warm, friendly, sincere, a great person, an outstanding Missouri leader," Skelton said. "Probably the highest compliment we can pay here in Missouri - he was a great guy from top to bottom."
Jean Carnahan began her remarks with a comment that one of the latest hurricanes to approach America had surely been named after Skelton because of his powerful efforts in the House of Representatives, drawing laughter and applause from the audience.
Jean Carnahan shared how her husband played a critical role in keeping Fort Leonard Wood open during the federal base realignment and closure process in the late 1990's. She also noted Melvin Carnahan's military service and said he knew that each generation must be "ready and willing" to serve in the military.
"I know my husband would be very pleased by this honor today," she said.
Russ Carnahan shared his thoughts on his father and the importance of the building dedication.
"Dad, I believe, was really the best example of love of family, love of country and love of service," Russ Carnahan said. "This is a wonderful way to honor him, a wonderful way to remember him. This building dedicated to community service for Army families will help keep his example and his inspiration alive to the people who walk through these doors for generations to come."
McCoy listed the many services ACS provides Soldiers and their families and spoke of ACS's impact on the installation, and how the Yellow Ribbon Room keeps deployed Soldiers and their families united.
"In just the last year, over 75,000 Soldiers and family members have been helped by ACS on this post alone," McCoy said.
McCoy spoke to the workers at ACS, reminding them of the role they play in the Global War on Terror.
"The Army is at war," McCoy said. "Our commitment today remains the same, but it's stronger because you take care of our families in all that you do."