USO Exhibit Showcases Decades of Collaboration
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
By Joseph Andrew Lee
The USO has been collaborating with the military to serve troops and their families since 1941, and according to Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, this collaboration is what sets the USO apart from other organizations. Mullen joined Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn to comment on the USO’s history today during the USO Exhibit ceremony at the Pentagon.
“Over the course of the last four years I’ve watched the USO change,” said Mullen. They’ve been at the heart of [lifting spirits]… from day one … even with of the challenges we’ve faced with our wounded. I’ve been impressed with … the USO. It’s on a great glide-slope with a terrific vision and a terrific plan. Look to a bright, bright future of partnership between the Pentagon … and the USO.”
The new exhibit, located in an escalator landing on the A Ring, Third Floor of the Pentagon, tells the story of the USO’s history and its continued support of America’s troops by showcasing a decade-by-decade timeline illustrating the USO’s history with life size murals, photographs and memorabilia.
The timeline and displays of real artifacts tell the story of the USO’s broad history and remind passers-by of the organization’s significant impact on lifting the spirits of America’s troops and their families through morale-boosting programs, services and engaging entertainment.
“Just as Bob Hope and Marilyn Monroe were volunteering years ago to bring a ray of joy to forward-deployed troops, today it's Robin Williams and Gary Sinise, and Toby Keith and hundreds of other celebrities,” said USO President Sloan Gibson.
Gibson asked guests and onlookers to look past the celebrity, however, to focus on the consistent contributor who has been with the USO from day one: the USO Volunteer.
“Back in World War II we had … 3,000 USO centers – all manned by volunteers … and today we have tens of thousands of volunteers that are still there, making a difference,” Gibson said. “It’s really these volunteers … that make the USO America’s way to show appreciation to troops and families. It’s the visceral support of America, standing behind the work that we do, because that’s what a young soldier, sailor, airman or Marine or their family member recognizes when they walk into a USO center. That they are there for them and only for them and that there’s not any other agenda.”
“The USO is so much more than entertainment,” Mullen said. “The USO travels all over the globe to engage our men and women and uniform and we are eternally grateful for that. Thanks for the work that went into this dedication. All of us in the Pentagon will cherish it.”
Comments (# comments) [+]