Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president of the United States, once said: "No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave." This quote encapsulates the sentiments expressed at the retirement ceremony of U.S. Army Gen. John F. Campbell at Conmy Hall on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall April 8.
High ranking military officials, family, friends, civilians, media and government representatives all came out to support Campbell as he was honored by his peers for his more than three decades of service to the United States Army. Before retiring, Campbell oversaw forces in Afghanistan.
Over 37 years of service, Campbell has received many honors and medals for his leadership and service, including: three Distinguished Service Medals, three Legions of Merit and three Bronze Star Medals.
Campbell, during his speech, spoke very little about his accomplishments. Instead, he thanked colleagues for attending and talked about his long-lasting friendships. He said that those relationships had a profound impact on his life.
"I recognize that today is not about me," he said. "As it has been throughout my career, it has never been about me. Today is much more about the people who have made this possible. While I've tried, I cannot begin to build a complete list of those I owe for this life that I have lived, this moment, and the enormous honor I have had for serving our nation. So today is about them."
Campbell said that it was the friendships he acquired while at West Point and throughout his military career that molded him into the leader he became.
"Of all the things that I will remember, I will remember the relationships that I've fostered," Campbell said.
He also took the time to acknowledge service members who had died while serving under his leadership in Iraq and Afghanistan. He suggested that the nation never forget the sacrifice and commitment of those who died in the line of duty.
"I also will never forget our wounded and their caregivers, who continue to bear the scars of war," he said. "My thoughts will forever remain with those who served with me in harm's way in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and I can only hope that my efforts to make each day count proved meaningful in some small way to both you and your families."
Campbell also offered some advice to his fellow Soldiers, telling them that leadership matters because "it makes a difference." And because it makes a difference, Campbell said that service members should do all they can to intentionally try to make a difference every day of their lives.
Where Campbell refused to boast about personal accomplishments, Gen. Mark A. Milley, chief of staff of the Army, spoke glowingly of Campbell's contributions to the military. He summarized his military style as being "quiet" and "selfless." Campbell's father served in the Air Force for 22 years and it was his model of service, selflessness and commitment to country that laid the foundation for Campbell, said Milley.
"[His father] instilled in him the foundational values of duty, honor and country, motivating him to a life of commitment and service to our nation," he said. "So although he isn't here, I know that your father and mother are very proud of you."
For a moment in his introduction, Milley alluded to the fact that Campbell's influence within the Army will never be forgotten and that his leadership style will trickle down to many Soldiers to come.
"You will take off that uniform today, but know that you have impacted tens of thousands of people to come," said Milley to Campbell.
Milley also said that Campbell's family played a huge role in Campbell's success. Campbell would have resigned a long time ago if he didn't have his family's support, said Milley. He publicly thanked Campbell's wife Ann, his son, John Jr., and his daughter, Jennifer, for their love and sacrifice that helped make his career a bit easier.
Pentagram Staff Writer Delonte Harrod can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.