Sullivan to sergeants major: 'You represent a proud legacy'
The 32nd Army chief of staff, Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA, Ret., currently the president and chief executive officer of the Association of the United States Army, spent a day with the staff, faculty, students and family members of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy (USASMA), Fort Bliss, Texas, talking about leadership, commitment and service to the nation, and thanking them for their sacrifices.
The day began with Sullivan addressing the members of Sergeants Major Course Class 64 about all aspects of leadership, and his day ended as guest speaker at the USASMA Spring Ball held at the Centennial Banquet Facility on East Fort Bliss.
"I want to make a special note of the sacrifices that you [spouses] and your children have made these last few years. I start counting the wars back with Panama when we went there in December of 1989, and we haven’t stopped since. You haven’t stopped," Sullivan said at the ball.
Adding, "And many of your spouses have been with you through all of that. Whether they have been with you for 20 odd years or the last 10, or the last five, they have seen you come and go to very dangerous places. And I want to thank each and every one you for your support of these great soldiers. I am not sure any of us understands how much of a burden [you carry]."
Sullivan then asked: "What is the essence of the military," but not before he first recognized the spouses in attendance.
"The essence of the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines and the Coast Guard – it’s easy to say, but what is it?" he asked.
Adding, "I can take you places and you can feel it. I could ask you to touch the battle streamers on these flags up here and it would take your breath away the number of places these services have been. But what is the essence?"
Sullivan made note of the numerous battles and conflicts the United States military has been involved – places like Trenton, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Shiloh, Normandy, Saratoga and more.
He talked about having to fight in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Tripoli, Guam, Iwo Jima, Chosin Reservoir, Fallujah, Bunker Hill – places he said are examples of the "essence" of the military.
"It is the history of our country. You all are a part of that history," he said.
Sullivan explained his belief that the Civil War private who stands guard over Antietam on that huge granite monument to the American Soldier, represents all service members.
"I choose to believe since there are people buried there from all services; I choose to believe that that soldier, that Civil War private represents all of you. Not for themselves, but for their country," he said.
He added, "That is what you represent; it is a proud legacy. The essential nature of the service, yours, no matter what your country, is men and women who are willing to sacrifice themselves for something larger than themselves and do so with discipline, courage and yes, even good grace and humor."
Command Sgt. Maj. Rory Malloy, commandant of USASMA, said he was very pleased that Sullivan came to the academy and also spoke to the class at the ball.
"I could not have been more thrilled when we received the response within 10 minutes of asking if General Sullivan would be our guest speaker," Malloy said.
Adding, "He has been serving our Army quite some time and continues today in the capacity of our Association of the United States Army president and CEO. It was truly an honor having him as our guest speaker."
(Editor’s note: This article is based on a story by David Crozier, command communications specialist, U.S Army Sergeants Major Academy.)