This day, two years, I assume command of you, under the order of the President of the United States. To-day, by virtue of the same authority, this army ceasing to exist, I have to announce my transfer to other duties, and my separation from you. It is unnecessary to enumerate here all that has occurred in these two eventful years, from the grand and decisive Battle of Gettysburg, the turning point of the war, to the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House. Suffice it to say that history will do you justice, a grateful country will honor the living, cherish and support the disabled, and sincerely mourned the dead. In parting from you, your commanding general will ever bear in memory your noble devotion to your country, your patience and cheerfulness under all the privations and sacrifices you have been called upon to endure. Soldiers! having accomplished the work set before us, having vindicated the honor and integrity of our Government and flag, let us return thanks to Almighty God for His blessing in granting us victory and peace; and let us sincerely pray for strength and light to discharge our duties as citizens, as we have endeavored to discharge them as soldiers.
Paul Baily, LBG, Gettysburg, PA, wrote the following:
Geo. G. Meade,Major General, U.S.A.
June 28, 2015 marks 150 years since General George G. Meade bid farewell to the Army of the Potomac. While there have been many famous farewell speeches in history such as General George Washington’s farewell address to the Continental Army and General Robert E. Lee’s farewell message to the Army of Northern Virginia, today we rarely hear farewell speeches unless a President gives a farewell address to the nation at the end of their term.
In fact, we don’t like to use the term “farewell” because it conjures up images of eulogies and funerals. But farewells should not be limited to just sad occasions. Just think of a college commencement speech, it is the college’s way of saying farewell, “Congratulations! Don’t come back to school tomorrow.”
Farewells should be celebrations; of good times and bad. They should commemorate; success as well as failure. And they should be a time to reflect; on the team’s shared struggle and sacrifices that made success a possibility.
Farewells should Not be a time to address some past wrong or insult or to insult someone as you are walking out the door. Remember, last impressions are just as important as first impressions. After all, you do want to be invited back to the reunions. (Whether or not you attend the reunion, is another matter. But you do want to be invited back.)
If you are being replaced by someone, introduce them. This lets the team know you are not cutting and running. And that you have worked with your replacement to reduce the chaos that always follows a transition in leadership.
Lastly, farewells are never the end. Yes, it may be the last time you see or work with team members and projects do get completed. However, there are always new teams and new projects. Use this time to reflect and assess on all that you have done. Challenge yourself and your old team to do better next time; to complete the project without you; or to start a new project in the hope that you may work together once again in the future.
As the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War comes to a close, I hope to meet you again “on a great battlefield of that war”…until then, farewell.
Copyright 20115 Paul Lloyd Hemphill