“I am a Soldier who is also an Olympian. I am where I am because I am a Soldier. –SSG Joshua Richmond, USAMU Olympian
Today, the 2012 Olympic Games are set to begin in London and the entire world will be watching. The Olympic Games, since their start in ancient Greece and rebirth in 1896, promote the importance of sport – the pursuit of excellence, mutual respect, and peaceful camaraderie amongst all who participate and all of the nations they represent.
Our Army has a proud tradition of sending its Soldier-Athletes to represent our Nation in this prestigious event. This year we continue that great tradition – in fact, this year we will send to London the most Army athletes in Olympic history. These elite athletes come from our World Class Athlete Program (WCAP) at Fort Carson and our U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) at Fort Benning. No strangers to excellence, athletes from both organizations are well recognized on the national and international stage in their respective sports.
Athletics has always been significant to our military culture. In 1928, Army General Douglas MacArthur was given a leave of absence from the Army to serve as the President of the American Olympic Committee (predecessor of the U.S. Olympic Committee). While en route to the Olympic Games in Amsterdam, MacArthur sought to inspire those great American Olympians telling them simply, “We represent the greatest Nation in the world.” The same remains true of our Soldier-Olympians today.
Today, we remain focused on the importance of athletics to our culture of camaraderie and discipline by sending our very best to compete and win in London. They represent our Nation, but they also represent the 1.1 million Soldiers serving in 160 countries around the world.
As testament to the incredible strength and dedication of our Wounded Warriors, our Army will also send the first Active Duty Soldier wounded in combat to the Paralympics. SFC Josh Olson represents the mental and physical toughness and determination of all of our Wounded Warriors.
I’ve commented before that Soldiering is a family affair. I am proud to highlight that we also have two Army spouses competing in London this year – Jamie Gray and Sandra Uptagrafft. We could not do what we do as an Army without the incredible support of our Families. Know that over the next few weeks the entire Army is behind you.
To all of our Army Olympians-our entire Army Family will be cheering for you at the London Games and we wish you the best of luck. We are proud that you will represent our Army and our Nation at this historic event and I trust that over the next few weeks you will show the world the true meaning of Army Strong!
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