MG Dempsey's remarks from the Casing of the Colors ceremony on the 4th of July.
LTG Metz, CSM Gainey, Iron Soldiers, Family Members linked to us by VTC from Germany.
Fifteen months ago, the group of Soldiers before you — Soldiers of the First Armored Division and Dragoons of the Second Armored Cavalry Regiment — formed a task force and set out to make the world safer for their fellow Americans and provide an opportunity for the Iraqi people to be free. They did.
Three months ago, this same group of Soldiers was asked to remain in Iraq to defeat a militia uprising and to preserve the path toward Iraqi sovereignty. They did that too.
Ladies and gentlemen, these are Iron Soldiers, and I’m proud to be their commander.
Now we’re going home.
I hope you are all as proud of what you have accomplished as i am of you.
The colors we just cased are part of what defines us. In an Army of hundreds of thousands, they are uniquely ours.
For generations, they have been carried into battle by men and women like you against the enemies of freedom. If those previous generations of Iron Soldiers were with us today, they would say to you “well done. You have made us proud.”
Sometime soon, we will add another battle streamer to those colors. That simple strip of silk will represent many things.
It will represent more than a year of your lives.
It will represent your 135 fellow soldiers who gave their lives for this mission and who made the journey home ahead of us.
It will represent your great courage in battle.
It will represent your remarkable stamina over the past 15 months.
It will represent your unshakable honor, tested in the most complex environment imaginable.
It will represent your immeasurable sacrifice and the sacrifice of your families.
Forever more, it will represent you.
From this point on in your careers, and long into your retirements, you should never look upon these colors the same again. These are truly your colors now. You have earned the right to stand tall behind them.
Today we also celebrate our Independence Day. It seems fitting that we end our mission on this great American holiday that celebrates our freedom.
We have learned a lot about the price of freedom.
We have learned that people experiencing freedom for the first time may not understand how fragile it can be and how much sacrifice may be required to earn it and preserve it.
I am confident that our actions have shown the Iraqi people how much we value our freedom. It is a shining example that cannot be ignored.
And we have learned that even people who have lived in freedom may not fully comprehend the profound care it requires. It was, after all, Thomas Jefferson who said “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time by the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
You will never feel the same about Independence Day again. At least I hope you don’t.
We know what we’ve accomplished here in Iraq. First in Baghdad and then in the southern provinces.
But, if you’ve forgotten, I will summarize it for you: We did our duty. Nothing more and certainly nothing less.
As the history of this military campaign is written, it will be said of task force First Armored Division: they did their best for their country, for their unit, for each other, and for the people of Iraq. That is our legacy.
Well done, Iron Soldiers—thank you for your service to our nation.
May God continue to protect us as we begin our journey to rejoin our families in Germany and at Fort Polk.
And may God bless America.