FORT BENNING, Ga. Gen. Colin Powell saluted more than two centuries of American soldiers today, telling a crowd of more than 2,000 people at the grand opening of the National Infantry Museum that "trust is the essence of the infantry."
"I am the infantry. Trust me. Follow me," is the tradition that thousands have carried as they trained at installations like Fort Benning before going on to fight in foreign lands, the retired four-star general and former secretary of state said.
Powell, who trained for the infantry at Fort Benning 50 years ago and returned to the west Georgia post for other instruction during his long career, was guest speaker at the dedication of the $107 million, 190,000-square-foot museum. He joined dignitaries such as Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson and U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, all R-Ga., and Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., in a sweltering outdoor ceremony marked by temperatures in the mid-90s.
"This would not be a certified, official Fort Benning ceremony if it was not 95 degrees," Powell joked. The palatial museum building features a 13,000-square-foot hall where visitors can see six galleries covering battles from the Revolutionary War to Iraq.