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Portrait of 37th chief of staff unveiled at Pentagon

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Nov. 20, 2012) -- The Army unveiled a portrait of Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, who served as the Army's 37th chief of staff, in a ceremony at the Pentagon, today.

Dempsey, now serving as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, attended the unveiling with his wife, Deanie.

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Dempsey is now the 18th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or CJCS. He assumed the position Sept. 30, 2011. Prior to his service as the CJCS, Dempsey served as the Army's chief of staff, and held that position for 149 days, beginning in April 2011. The portrait is meant to commemorate the general's service to the Army.

Standing in front of the portrait, painted by artist Laurel Stern Boeck, Dempsey explained some of the significant elements of the work, and why they are important to him.

In the painting, which is set in his office, there is a picture of his family on his desk. He said their image is there to include in the portrait their commitment and contribution to his military career.

"The picture, I hope, will memorialize that; that this isn't just about me," Dempsey said.

The portrait also shows the general wearing his graduation ring from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.

"I don't wear it all the time, but as a cavalryman in armor units, you start to take jewelry off so you don't lose a finger in an alternator or generator," he said. "But I do wear it on special occasions, and I wanted to remind myself and those who come after me that I owe a good bit of who I became as a military officer to my time at the U.S. Military Academy."

Finally, in the background of the portrait, the painting "Pride of Erin" is represented -- a print that hung in the general's office that portrayed the "Irish Brigade" at Gettysburg during the Civil War.

"It's to remind me -- as the secretary and I talk about often -- we are a nation of immigrants," Dempsey said. "We are all from someplace else, or the vast majority. And somehow we manage to pull it all together, not only as a nation, but as a military. I wanted to make sure I captured that as well."

The general identifies closely with his own Irish heritage.

Among the distinguished guests at the unveiling were Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III, and former Chief of Staff of the Army retired Gen. George W. Casey Jr.

McHugh said that while Dempsey had been the chief of staff of the Army for only a short time, he came into the job with a plan; one which he'd been developing for years. That plan, McHugh said, involved the importance of the cultivation of leaders.

"All of us recognize that all of our Soldiers are truly the strength of the Army -- the strength of the nation," McHugh explained. "Marty is the one that recognized our leaders are an irreplaceable source of that strength. And pursuing his thesis on how to develop great leaders, at the same time, Marty became one himself. We've been blessed by that."

The general's portrait will hang with similar portraits of past chiefs of staff in a corridor in the Pentagon.

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