Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that he included Bravo, his golden retriever, in his official portrait to remind everyone of how important it is to be loyal to your fellow service members and country.
Mr. Panetta’s portrait was unveiled in a ceremony Thursday in the Pentagon courtyard, which Bravo attended.
“It’s a reminder of what’s really important that makes this place work, which is loyalty. As we all know, there’s no pet as loyal as a dog,” Mr. Panetta said. “We know Bravo would probably die for me, and I would die for Bravo.”
Mr. Panetta, who served as the secretary of defense from 2011 to 2013 under President Obama, also said having his dog in his official portrait is a reminder of the humanity of the people he served as the Defense Department’s top civilian.
“I don’t think we can ever afford to forget that what we do here involves the lives of our men and women in uniform and the lives of others throughout the world. We need to constantly remind ourselves that that human factor is important to our ability to make the right decisions and our ability to understand what life is really all about,” he said.
Mr. Panetta said his life has been ruled by a call to service, and that — if he had his way — he would require all young Americans to serve at least two years in some role to help the country to teach the importance of service.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter thanked Mr. Panetta for what he accomplished while in office, including ending the U.S. conflict in Iraq and beginning the drawdown in Afghanistan, as well as historic personnel moves such as repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and lifting the ban on women in combat.
“Now that I’m up on that bridge, I value the strong foundation you built on all these issues,” he said.
Before becoming secretary of defense, Mr. Panetta led the CIA from 2009 to 2011, including during the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden.