Gen. Martin Dempsey’s 2016 Hall of Fame Speech

General Martin E. Dempsey. Photo: Margaret Purcell

Niall and Patricia and other organizers of this terrific event, my fellow Honorees, and –the president Clinton has departed– but this has been quite an extraordinary day for Deanie and I…

You know, if forty years ago—forty-one years ago when I entered the military or thirty-nine years ago when we were married, someone said that we‘d be honored in this way, I would…It certainly wouldn’t have been something I‘d put wager on, I‘ll tell you that.

But we are honored to be here today and I have been blessed to receive many, many awards, most of which weren’t personal awards. Most of them were actually awards on behalf of the young men and women who we have been honored to represent for these many years.

Last year, I received an award from Time Magazine–I know that their former editor is here –and I was named one of the 100 most influential leaders of 2015. Now, the reason I mention this is when my staff came in and said, “You‘ve just been named one of the 100 most influential world leaders in 2015.” I said, “Oh, goon-that is not possible!“ He said “Why not?” I said, “I am not even one of the most influential people in my own house. How could I possibly be one of the most influential leaders of the world?”

Like many of you, I reflect back on my ancestors. I am the grandson of four Irish immigrants from Mayo, Donegal, Roscommon and Sligo … Deanie is a great-grandchild of immigrants from Cork and Kerry …And if it hadn’t been for them, none of us would have been here.

By the way, that is a nature of our country and I never allow myself to forget that.

One vignette…

I was sitting on the podium, on a dais like this, with President Obama, Leon Panetta and I. Panetta was leaving office—we had a parade for him. And as he walked off to be honored by the troupes, President Obama leaned across to me and when the President leans across you pay attention, right? I mean this is one of the rules of the road …So he leaned across because Panetta had been sitting between us and he leaned across and he said, “Can you believe that three of us are here?” And that is all he said and he didn’t have to say anything else because I knew what he meant was –African American, Italian American and Irish American. And it is one of the most powerful moments of my entire time with the President.

And I am often wondering if my grandmother on Ellis Island, you know, standing there with her mandatory one suitcase and a couple of Polish fellows behind, you know, chatting it up, I am just guessing she turned around at one point and said, “You just pay attention now because my grandson is going to be the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

The truth is—that is only possible in America. Really! It is just only possible in America and I‘ll never forget that and I’ll never forget this award today and I just want to let you…

I have to give you one– two other things…One is a Yates quote. President Clinton started it…Actually, my favorite Yates’ quote is not from one of his poems because he also wrote—he was quite an essayist as well, and he said, during the troubles, he said, “Talent perceives differences, Genius unity, “and – boy!- if that is not what we need!

We need a little genius in our world today, just as President Clinton discussed.

And last but not least, I actually think I am being given this award for my singing ability not for anything I‘ve done and I am getting confirmation right here.

So I am going to sing a very short little Irish song. Some of you may have never heard it –that would be actually good because you would not be inclined to sing along with me. Nah, I am kidding. If you want to sing…If you heard it and want to sing along, I‘d be happy to have you.

It is by the High Kings and I have to ask you a question before I sing and that is this:

Has anyone ever been anywhere in the world where you couldn’t find an Irish pub?

Yes, that is what I thought.

“The Irish Pub”

Well, you’re walkin’ through a city street, you could be in Peru

And you hear a distant calling and you know it’s meant for you

So you drop what you were doing and you join the merry mob

And before you know just where you are, you’re in an Irish pub

 

They’ve got one in Honolulu, they’ve got one in Moscow, too,

They got four of them in Sydney and a couple in Kathmandu

So whether you sing or pull a pint you’ll always have a job

‘Cause wherever you go around the world you’ll find an Irish pub

 

Now that design is fairly simple and it usually works the same,

You’ll have ‘Razor Houghton’ scoring in the Ireland – England game

And you‘ll know you are in an Irish pub the minute you’re in the door,

For a couple of boys with bodhrans will be murdering Christy Moore

 

They’ve got one in Honolulu, they’ve got one in Moscow, too,

They got four of them in Sydney and a couple in Kathmandu

So whether you sing or pull a pint you’ll always have a job

‘Cause wherever you go around the world you’ll find an Irish pub

 

Now the owner is Norwegian and the manager comes from Cork

And the lad that’s holding up the bar says ‘Only Eejits Work’

He was born and bred in Bolton but his mammy’s from Kildare

And he’s going to make his fortune soon and then go home to County Clare

 

They’ve got one in Honolulu, they’ve got one in Moscow, too,

They got four of them in Sydney and a couple in Kathmandu

So whether you sing or pull a pint you’ll always have a job

Wherever you go around the world you’ll find an Irish pub

 

Now it’s time for me to go, I have to catch me train

So I’ll leave ye sitting at the bar to face the wind and rain

But I’ll have that pint you owe me, ‘cause I’m not gone on the dry

When we meet next week in Sydney in the fields of Athenry

 

They’ve got one in Honolulu, they’ve got one in Moscow, too,

They got four of them in Sydney and a couple in Kathmandu

So whether you sing or pull a pint you’ll always have a job

‘Cause wherever you go around the world you’ll find an Irish pub. ♦

_______________

To read more about Martin Dempsey, read Irish America’s April / May cover story here.

Leave a Reply




Share



More Articles

Weekly Comment:
Irish America Celebrates
the 2017 Hall of Fame

Irish America magazine inducted five new members to its Hall of Fame March 15 – Nobel laureate Dr. William C....

More

Kevin White

Kevin White is the vice president and athletic director of Duke University in Durham, NC. Since taking over the...

More

Terry O’Sullivan

Terry O’Sullivan became the tenth General President of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA)...

More

Sister Tesa Fitzgerald

Sister Tesa Fitzgerald is the founder and executive director of Hour Children, a nonprofit based in Queens that helps...

More