Thousands of veterans cheered as Gen. David H. Petraeus , who heads the U.S. Central Command, was awarded The American Legion's Distinguished Service Medal on Aug. 25 at its 91st National Convention in Louisville, Ky.
National Commander David K. Rehbein began his tribute to Petraeus by quoting critics who declared, "The war is lost," and "The surge will never work."
"Yet," said Rehbein, "General David Petraeus, the chief advocate of the military troop surge and the commander of the Multinational Force – Iraq , refused to share this pessimism. He never lost faith in America's fighting men and women. He would be the first to tell you that the credit for the success in Iraq belongs to those who served and are still serving over there."
Petraeus himself reiterated this point as he accepted the service medal and in remarks a short time later. He also vowed to wage a vigorous campaign against insurgents in Afghanistan, as U.S. forces aid the fragile country in its quest for self-sufficiency and freedom from tyrannical rule.
The award is the Legion's highest honor. Petraeus joined fellow convention speakers Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki at the convention's opening ceremonies.