Assumption of Command

06 April 2005

SFC Smith: Member of the Hall of Heroes

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(Photo: Defense Link)

Yesterday, the first Medal of Honor recipient in the War on Terrorism, SFC Paul Smith, was inducted in the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes. I was lucky enough to watch the ceremony live. There were a lot Pentagon Top Dogs there. We heard from the Army Chief of Staff, The Secretary of Army and The Secretary of Defense. It was really a dull ceremony until Mrs. Birget Smith, SFC Smith's wife, spoke.

Defense Link
Paul loved his country, he loved the Army, and he loved his soldiers. He loved being a sapper (Army engineer). He died doing what he loved,” she said.

She thanked the Army for giving her husband the opportunity “to fulfill his dream of serving his country.” She said she and her family “continue to be overwhelmed by the American people's appreciation of his service.

A native of Germany, Birgit Smith recalled how American soldiers liberated her country from tyranny 60 years ago in World War II. “Today another generation of American soldiers has given the Iraqi and the Afghan people a new birth of freedom,” she said.

This is an ideal that Paul truly believed in,” she said, adding, “I'm sure Paul would be proud to know that I have begun the process of becoming an American citizen.

Addressing Smith’s 3rd Infantry Division comrades, Birgit encouraged them to tell their stories so “the American people and the world will better understand the sacrifice of Paul and others like him.
This was a very difficult thing for Mrs. Smith to do. English is not her first language. But what is more difficult, and the transcript doesn't mention, is how emotionally drained the past few days, let alone the 2 years since SFC Smith valiantly died, have been. But she stood up, and in front of people and live TV Cameras said these wonderful things, while suppressing all the tears again. That is a brave and courageous act in itself.

At the end of her speech, with her prepared remarks complete, you could see she was relieved and, and not knowing what else to say, she said, with a slight smile on her face, the one word that says it all.
She ended her remarks with the universal Army cry of “Hooah!
And when she said it brought a smile to my face, as well as all the people at the ceremony.

Hooah! Mrs. Smith, Hooah!

For more information check out the Offical Army Website