During the Second World War, Soldiers from the National Guardís 32nd Division landed in Australia to begin a combat campaign that took them from the jungles of New Guinea and the Philippines to Japan.
The Red Arrow ultimately logged more days in combat than any other American division in the war while it served under the command of Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
Seventy years later, descendants of the 32nd Division ñ Red Arrow Soldiers of the Wisconsin Army National Guardís 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team ñ were on hand to re-dedicate a statue of MacArthur in Milwaukee.
Milwaukee County moved the 9-foot-6-inch bronze statue from its previous location in MacArthur Square near the Milwaukee County Courthouse to a more prominent location in Veterans Park on Milwaukeeís lakefront. Members of the 32nd, senior military leaders and dignitaries of foreign nations were on hand to formally re-dedicate the statue at its new location June 7.
The re-dedication ceremony was the culminating event in a week of events and ceremonies organized in honor of MacArthur, who attended Milwaukeeís West Division High School. A subsequent ceremony in the shadow of the newly unveiled statue welcomed approximately 80 new Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers as well as dozens of their brethren from the active Army, Navy, and Coast Guard into the military.
MacArthur Memorial Week also marked the 35th anniversary of the statueís original 1979 unveiling and the 80th anniversary of MacArthurís entrance into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
A color guard from the Red Arrow posted the colors, while other 32nd Infantry Brigade Soldiers led by Command Sgt. Maj. Rafael Conde pulled the veil from the statue overlooking Lake Michigan.
The Soldiers placed wreaths representing the United States, Australia, the Philippines, South Korea and Japan in honor of MacArthurís enduring legacy in those countries.
Following the re-dedication, newly minted service members from the Army, Wisconsin Army National Guard, Navy and Coast Guard participated in the ìOur Community Salutesî event, to honor newly sworn-in service members from the area.
ìWe thank all of you for choosing this as your lifeís work,î Congresswoman Gwen Moore, from Wisconsinís 4th Congressional District, said to the assembled new recruits and their families. ìI know that God has given you talents and abilities that you could use in a lot of ways that would enhance you personally, but you have decided to use those same skill sets to protect the values and freedoms that have made this nation what it is.î
Moore thanked the new service members for their willingness to serve at such critical points in their lives.
ìAt your age, you could have a lot of other things on your minds ñ a new car, girlfriends or boyfriends, college, what you might do for the summer ñ but you are uniquely tasked by your own consciousness to ask what you could do for your country and your community, and clearly that is not the case for all young people of your age,î she said.
Retired Gen. Robert W. Cone, a Wisconsin native who retired from the Army in May after serving as the commander of the Armyís training and doctrine command expressed his thanks to the new recruits and expressed the need for all services to work together.
ìWe draw on the National Guard,î Cone said of his experience leading joint commands while on active duty. ìThey are our brothers in arms, and we turn to them all the time and active component and vice versa. When I served in Afghanistan, I commanded National Guard brigades. So we are part of a team. So take a good look at whoís on the left of you and the right of you, and remember that you will see them again defending our nation, and we are a team.î
Only 23 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 even qualify for military service, Cone, a former U.S. Army recruiting commander said.
Less than one percent will heed the call to serve.
ìYou have raised that right hand, and you will be part of a military that will protect and defend our Constitution and our fellow citizens,î Cone said.
ìPeople talk sometimes today disparagingly about todayís generation of Soldiers or todayís generation of young people,î he said. ìWell, let me tell you something. For the last 13 years, off and on, I have served in combat with your generation.
ìAnd I will tell you something. You are part of a new generation ñ Americaís new next greatest generation. I have seen Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen in some of the darkest places on the face of this earthÖî
The retired general told of wounded service members heís met asking to get back in the fight and return to their units, or others who continued to hold the lines in bleak moments.
ìThat is the stock you come from,î Cone said. ìThat is the record your generation has established in combat these last 13 years, and I am confident that each and every one of you will continue that tradition of excellence already established by your generation.î
Each new service member received a certificate of appreciation. The Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers received theirs from Maj. Gen. Donald Dunbar, Wisconsinís adjutant general and commander of the Wisconsin National Guard, while Cone presented them to the active Army Soldiers. Vice Admiral Dirk Debbink presented the certificates to the new Sailors, while U.S. Coast Guard Commander Erik Leuenberger presented them to the new Coast Guard recruits. They were joined by retired Maj. Gen. Paul Lima, the civilian aide to the secretary of the Army for Wisconsin.