David and Holly Petraeus Recognized as "National Treasures"
He had to cancel last year due to pressing military issues in Afghanistan
September 1, 2011
William Lynn, deputy defense secretary (far right) David Petreaus with (from left) son Stephen, daughter Anne '04 and wife Holly '74. Image is a screen grab from C-SPAN coverage of the general's retirement ceremony Aug. 31.
Gen. David Petraeus, regarded by many as the most famous and influential Army leader of his generation, retired from the military yesterday ahead of becoming the nation’s next director of central intelligence. He was joined at the ceremony his wife, Holly Petraeus ’74; his daughter, Anne ’04, a graduate student at UNC-Chapel Hill; and his son, Stephen, a ‘09 MIT graduate and now a lieutenant in the Army.
The four-star general was scheduled to speak at last May’s Dickinson Commencement ceremonies, but was forced to cancel due to ongoing responsibilities as commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force and U.S. forces in Afghanistan. He addressed a personal letter of regret to each Dickinson graduating senior.
It is his intention to be the speaker at a future Dickinson commencement and to be the recipient of an honorary doctorate degree already approved by the faculty and the board of trustees. President William G. Durden said he looks forward to welcoming Petraeus back to campus. The general last visited Carlisle in 2004 to attend his daughter's graduation and to honor the Army ROTC cadets of the Blue Mountain Battalion by serving as commissioning speaker.
During formal ceremonies Wednesday at Fort Myer, near Washington, D.C., Petraeus closed the book on his storied 37-year Army career. A who’s who of military officials, colleagues, classmates and friends — including retired Col. Sherwood “Woody” Goldberg ’63, civilian aid to the secretary of the Army, and his wife, Susan—came out to honor the general.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called Petraeus a visionary and said the general and his wife are "national treasures."
"Dave has, over the last decade, advised two presidents, changed the course of two wars, transformed our military and, perhaps most important of all, reminded Americans once again that with the right ideas and the right leadership, almost anything is possible," Mullen said.
Holly Petraeus was presented with two distinctions — the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service and the Army Declaration for Distinguished Civilian Service — for her unflagging leadership, support of military families, and efforts to protect those who serve and their families from fraud and deception.
“It is assuredly Dickinson's gain in identifying ourselves with the Petraeus family and their selfless public service in the finest tradition of our founder, Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence,” Durden said. “For Dr. Rush, patriotism took the form of both military and civilian service, and the Petraeuses have lived that commitment to its fullest.”
Petraeus was the General George C. Marshall Award winner as the top graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College class of 1983. He graduated West Point and earned a Ph.D. from Princeton University. In 2007, he was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential leaders and revolutionaries of the year and one of four runners-up for Time Person of the Year.