International students recognized at Fort Leavenworth ceremony
Fort Leavenworth and the 63 international students in its Command and General Staff College epitomize the cooperation and understanding that many Americans would like to see worldwide, the fort's acting commander says.
"Together you have helped to transform this little Army post in the Heartland into an internationtional crossroad," Brig. Gen. Mark E. O'Neill said Thursday, June 14, addressing the soon-to-be graduates at the fort's annual International Military Student Badge Ceremony.
The ceremony honored those students who came from another country to study at the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth with a badge to be worn on their uniform. In all, 60 countries were represented in the Class of 2007.
The international students officially graduated the following day in a ceremony with the rest of the class of 2007, but Thursday was about honoring how far they'd come from and what they'd brought with them.
O'Neill said that numerous professional bonds had been forged throughout the program that were so important during such a challenging time. He said the graduates had proven their dedication and contribution, which went far beyond a country's borders.
Each student was called to walk across the stage as they received their unique badge that O'Neill said would represent new responsibilities for each recipient.
He said they could expect to return to their countries and their military units and were sure to find that people now had higher expectations of them.
It's been a challenging year, and for the students who can't say that English is their first language, O'Neill said they should be proud of how far they've come.
Lt. Col. Sergejus Drasciukas of Lithuania gave the senior international-student address.
He said that every one of them had come to the fort to learn. "And most of us did," he joked. Some of the most important lessons, he noted, came from outside the classroom.
He said each of the international officers, in their unique way, learned what it was like to be in America and how to take their experiences back with them to make a better world for their family and friends.
O'Neill then was presented with the class gift, an etched picture of the globe that included the names of each class member.
As a finale, the song "Hands across the Sea" was played. Everyone stood to recognize what O'Neill described as the song that symbolizes international friendships and cooperation.