|U.S. Army Secretary Pete Geren Offers Commissions to Five Davidson College Seniors
May 16, 2009
Contact: Stacey Schmeidel
Pete Geren, Secretary of the U.S. Army, presented to commissions to five graduating seniors at Davidson College’s spring commissioning ceremony today.
|Sec. Geren congratulates the new lieutenants.|
In remarks praising the ideal of the soldier-scholar, Geren said, “I will always remember that today I administered the oath of office to Second Lieutenant Rebecca C. Harrison, Second Lieutenant William J. Haynes III, Second Lieutenant Joshua M. Kohn, Second Lieutenant Jonathan O. Leathers, and Second Lieutenant David M. Palko.” The newly commissioned officers will graduate from Davidson along with more than 400 classmates during Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 17.
In a commissioning address before a full house of more than 150 people in Davidson’s Tyler –Tallman Hall, Geren invoked Thucydides’ ideal of a soldier-scholar. The ancient Greek historian, who wrote The History of the Peloponnesian War, said, “The society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting by fools.”
Geren, who became secretary of the Army in July 2007, noted that as a civilian, he was “humbled to be here with those have chosen to answer our nation’s call. I thank the cadets and their families for your service, and for your willingness to sacrifice for our nation.”
Geren spoke warmly of the Davidson grads with whom he has worked. “When I came to the Department of Defense in 2001, I knew of Davidson, but I knew no one from Davidson,” he said. “That changed; at Defense, I was surrounded by Davidson grads. I concluded by watching and working with these remarkable people that Davidson must be a remarkable place.”
Geren ended his remarks with a charge to the new officers, reminding them of the inscription on the historic bell in Chambers Building, Davidson’s signature academic structure. Given to the college in 1922, in memory of alumni who died in World War I, the bell carries an inscription: "In Memory of our soldier dead, To you from falling hands we throw the torch; Be yours to hold it high."
“Be yours to hold it high,” Geren repeated to the new officers. “I know you will.”
Following his remarks, Geren led the cadets in the military oath of office. Then each cadet was “pinned” with the gold bars that distinguish the second lieutenant uniform. Each cadet then presented the first salute.
In opening remarks, LTC Edward Johnson, professor of military science at UNC Charlotte, offered praise and encouragement for the Davidson students who he has worked closely with over the past four years. “Excellence is part of who you are,” he said. “It’s part of the reason you are at Davidson.” Johnson noted that it was likely that all five of the cadets commissioned today “will be wearing a combat patch on your arm within the next 12 months. In this room, there may be future corporate leaders, doctors, scientists, maybe even a president,” he said. “Every one of you has prepared yourself to be an outstanding leader.”
Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,800 students located 20 minutes north of Charlotte in Davidson, N.C. Since its establishment in 1837 by Presbyterians, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently regarded as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country. Through The Davidson Trust, the college became the first liberal arts institution in the nation to replace loans with grants in all financial aid packages, giving all students the opportunity to graduate debt-free. Davidson competes in NCAA athletics at the Division I level, and a longstanding Honor Code is central to student life at the college.
Posted By: Bill Giduz