Longest Serving Sergeant Major of the Army to Highlight ED Veterans Day Program

Retired Sergeant Major of the Army Kenneth O. PrestonHere at the Department of Education, autumn is more than back to school.  In addition to all the back to school activities, we also host significant events each year tied to our nation’s history.  Veterans Day is one of them and is observed at the Department each year close to November 11.

2017 marks the centennial of the U.S. entry into World War I and Veterans Day originated from that war. November 11 marks the date of the armistice that ended hostilities in 1918.

In fact, President Woodrow Wilson signed the following proclamation to commemorate the first Armistice Day, held on November 11, 1919: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”

ED’s 2017 Veterans Day Program

This year’s Veterans Day program theme is “Military members serve with their hearts – We honor them with our thanks.”

The program will be held on Thursday, November 9 at 10:00am in the LBJ Auditorium.  The keynote speaker this year is Kenneth O. Preston, who retired as the 13th Sergeant Major of the Army and was the longest-serving Sergeant Major of the Army.  According to the U.S. Army web page, “There’s only one Sergeant Major of the Army. This rank is the epitome of what it means to be a Sergeant and oversees all Non-Commissioned Officers. The Sergeant Major serves as the senior enlisted advisor and consultant to the Chief of Staff of the Army.”

In that position, Sgt. Maj. Of the Army Preston served as the Army Chief of Staff’s personal adviser on all Soldier and Family related matters, particularly areas affecting Soldier training and quality of life. Throughout his 36-year career, he served in every enlisted leadership position from cavalry scout and tank commander.  SMA Preston holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from TUI University and has earned numerous medals and awards, including the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, and the Bronze Star Medal.

This year’s program will include appearances from representatives of the National Security Council and the Veterans Administration.  The University of Maryland USAF Color Guard and the North Point High School ROTC will participate.


Anthony Fowler is Interagency Liaison at the U.S. Department of Education.

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