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General salute to Black History Month
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Gens. Rick Lynch and Lloyd Austin III sing during the ceremony. - photo by Photo by Daisy Pleasant Jones
A former 3rd Infantry Division two-star general returned to Fort Stewart Tuesday with three-stars to celebrate black history.
“The legacy of a man is not the rank or position he holds but the lives he touches,” 3rd Infantry Division Commander Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch said Feb. 20.
Lynch made the comment as he presented the division’s former ADCM, Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin III, as the installation’s annual Black History Observance speaker.
Austin imposes a striking figure and is well known throughout the division as the maneuver commander during the division’s deployment to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom 1.  
“It’s all about how you live your dash. We all have a date of birth and dash. It matters how we live it. We all have a choice as to who we will touch,” Lynch said, commenting about Austin’s legacy.
With virtually standing room only, the audience applauded and cheered in agreement with Lynch’s comments as the three-star general rose to begin his speech.
“This is a division that destroyed Saddam Hussein’s army. This is a division that was primarily responsible for taking Baghdad. This is a division of heroes and there are some heroes in this crowd,” Austin said as echoes of “hooah” made its way through the audience.
He referred to many soldiers, black and white, who have fought in battles for democracy.
“Young African Americans continue to make significant contributions on a joint team. We’re all on the same joint team. That’s what makes us the best army in the world,” he said.
While a history lesson was in order, Austin also commented about the military’s legacy in regards to diversity.
“The military conveys many powerful messages about the importance of diversity,” the general said. “Our country is built on the hopes and dreams of several cultures. I value diversity.
“Our understanding of the importance of diversity causes us to be more understanding as we fight the global war on terrorism. Racism and bigotry have been fundamental in major conflicts all over the world. In order to fight the war we have to keep our own house straight,” he said.
While the military hosts many ethnic observances throughout the year, diversity has to be managed and not left unchecked, he noted.
“There are many who believe we have arrived. I am not one of the people who believe that,” he said.
“This is black history. This is also American History,” he said. “As I look around this room I can see an example of what America is all about. I can see what Dr. King’s dream is all about. We celebrate and honor our special heritages. Regardless of our roots we are and will remain Americans,” the general said.
Austin, who hails from Thomasville, was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Infantry in June 1975 from the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York. He has more than 31 years of military service and served in several command and staff assignments. He commanded the 2d Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82d Airborne Division; He commanded the  3d Brigade, 82d Airborne Division from June 1997 to June 1999.  Shortly after brigade command, he was assigned to the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., where he served as Chief, Joint Operations Division, J-3 on the Joint Staff. Austin became the ADCM in July 2001 until June 2003.
After leaving Fort Stewart in June 2003, Austin was selected to become Commanding General, 10th Mountain Division (Light), Fort Drum, New York. He served as the Chief of Staff, United States Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida from September 2005 until October 2006. Austin was promoted with a third star in December and assumed command of the 18th Airborne Corps.

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