As I sat in the audience at Ridgway Hall, I reflected that the Army may get the latest high-tech equipment and learn how to use it, but the Army remains the Army. Tradition counts. It counts a lot. The Change of Responsibility Ceremony for the outgoing and incoming U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence Command Sergeant Majors was timeless. It was the same combination of flags, music, speeches, and salutes that have marked military ceremonies for a very long time. It still resonates with me. Having been a child during World War Two, when patriotism was the highest I have ever seen it, I get emotional when I hear the band play “The Army Goes Rolling Long,” which was first “Caisson Song,” then “The U.S. Field Artillery,” before it was “The Army Goes Rolling Along.” The Ground Forces Band from Fort McPherson played it at the ceremony, and, involuntarily, I was moved. The fact that I was an Army bandsman many years ago might also have something to do with it.
During the Ceremony, tribute was paid to outgoing Fort Benning CSM Earl L. Rice, who goes to Fort Bragg to become CSM there, and incoming CSM James C. Hardy, both with very impressive service records including many combat medals. Their wives were also honored with presentations of bouquets.
A Command Sergeant Major is the top ranked enlisted man on an Army post. He deals not only with the noncommissioned officer corps, but directly with the commanding general. The relationship between a command sergeant major and commanding general was crystalized during Maj. Gen. Ferriter’s speech. He said more than once, when he came up with some cockeyed idea to be implemented, his CSM had said, “Let’s talk,” and after their private conversation, he wisely dropped the idea. He told other stories that exemplified the relationship between a commanding general and his command sergeant major.
After Maj. Gen. Ferrita spoke, both of the Command Sergeant Majors spoke. The thing that stood out with both of them is their concern for their soldiers and their own families. They are Rangers. They are Airborne. They are battle tested. They are also loving family men. It came across that, along with their own families, they are very dedicated to their fellow soldiers, the Army, and their country.