VMI Joint Commissioning Ceremony 2016


Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the entrance of the stage party, and remain standing for the playing of the national anthem and the invocation. Let us pray. Almighty God and everlasting Father, we humbly approach you to make our prayer on behalf of these candidates who are being commissioned into the military service of our nation. As a nation, we’re entrusting into their care the men and women who have volunteered to serve in our country’s military. As these candidates set their will to fulfill the oath which will become their professional creed, give of your Holy Spirit that enabling power that will make their word their bond. Equip them with your grace until they are filled with courage, compassion, wisdom, and a sense of excellence. Create in them a dedication to duty. Foster in them a love for country. Cause them to regard honor above self. Empower them to choose and hold to the harder right rather than the easier wrong. We’re fully mindful that you’ve entrusted into the care of our nation the duty of sentinel and guardian of freedom, VMI men and women who in years past were commissioned at this ceremony and are presently performing this duty. Those who are about to be commissioned will soon take up arms and join them in the fight. Surround them and those they will lead with your abundant protection, and in times of peace and war, hear and answer their cry to thee. We pray that your presence will sustain and protect them. Be for them an ever-present help in the time of trouble. We commend them into your faithful, all-sufficient care. This, oh God, is our prayer. God bless America. Amen. Please be seated. Ladies and gentlemen, it is my distinct honor to introduce the superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute, General Peay. Well, good morning. On behalf of Mr. Pete Ramsey, our president of the Board of Visitors, General Djuric, commandant of cadets at the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership at Mary Baldwin College, and the entire VMI community, it gives me great pleasure to welcome those who will soon receive commissions, their proud families, friends, members of the Virginia Military Institute faculty and staff, and members of the Corps of Cadets. Today’s ceremony marks the culmination of four years of serious study and work on the part of each graduate, and the beginning of a life of service to the nation, in a tradition that extends to the founding of our great republic. Moreover, it is the fulfillment of one of the central and historic purposes of the Virginia Military Institute, the preparation of citizen-soldiers. Of the important moments that will remain in your memory throughout life, this commissioning ceremony will certainly be one. We’re most fortunate to have with us today as commissioning officers four outstanding officers whose service to the nation stands as an inspiration to all of us, and especially to the young men and women who will follow in their paths from this day forward. It is my honor to welcome Army Lieutenant General Joseph Anderson, a 1981 U.S Military Academy graduate who is the deputy chief of staff for operations, known as G-3, G-5, G-7 of the Army, with duty at the Pentagon; Navy Admiral Michelle Howard, a 1982 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who serves as vice chief of staff of Naval operations with duty at the Pentagon; Air Force Major General Mark Hicks, a 1986 graduate of VMI who is chief of staff, headquarters, U.S. Special Operations Command, stationed at McDill Air Force Base, Tampa, Florida; and Marine Corps Brigadier General Steve Neary, a 1988 graduate of VMI who is deputy commanding general of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command stationed at Quantico, Virginia. With the wartime demands of duty and responsibility that these officers face, VMI is privileged to welcome these senior officers to deliver the commissioning oath to soon-to-be officers of our services. And although these distinguished officers represent separate branches of our armed forces, it is important to remember that all who lead and all who serve our country are members of a dedicated and highly professional team with many things in common. For example, not only have they gained their higher education at the same or similar institutions, their advancement throughout the ranks has included advanced degree programs and attendance at service schools, at times offered by sister services. This is one of the great strengths of our outstanding military establishment, and for those of you who choose to remain in the military, a pathway through these many schools lies before you. VMI is but the foundation and a starting point from which you will grow and build your career. The flag officers with us today are products of that outstanding system. They are seasoned officers who have served at the highest echelons of our national command structure as well as having extensive experience at the cutting edge in leading soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. We are honored by their presence today, and let’s give them applause in appreciation for their wonderful service to our nation. I now invite our professors of military science and their staffs to stand and receive our expressions of thanks for the inspiring work they have accomplished in teaching and mentoring the young men and women who will be commissioned this morning. Would you please stand? And now I ask that all of the veterans, and those currently serving in the audience stand—cadets, staff, faculty, parents, and other guests here today, to receive our heartfelt thanks for your service. Nearly 100 years ago, the United States entered the first World War, and as the song has it, thousands of Americans, men and women, went “over there.” By the end of the war, 1,800 VMI alumni had served the country and helped to win victory. At the time, the conflict was referred to as the war to end all wars, but sadly, that has not been the case, and despite the hope of permanent peace, 77 years ago, the world plunged into World War II, and a series of conflicts have followed. The world continues to be a dangerous place. That fact underscores the continuing and increasing need for a strong military establishment, led by highly educated, skilled, and dedicated officers, and especially men and women who can meet the challenges of modern warfare. Since the end of World War II, the traditional concept of a battlefield has changed completely. Now it is no longer confined to a specific geographical area. Even the nature of warfare is expanding. I use the term “expanding” instead of “changing” because we have seen over the past decade that boots on the ground continue to be required even as some of our warriors now wage combat with remotely guided drones and robotics and satellites and cyber and other intelligence systems. As technology advances and accelerates, these weapons become increasingly sophisticated, and as the result of the application of information systems, increasingly smart. As important as these weapons and systems are, nevertheless the key to the strength of any nation’s military establishment remains with its men and women who intelligently and thoughtfully carry out U.S. policy and who operate the tools of warfare on the ground, on and under the sea, in the air, and now in cyberspace. From its very first days, VMI has been dedicated to producing the very best liberal education set in a distinctive military environment, and what the founders back in 1839 called broadly scientific officers, professionals and citizen-soldiers to play a leading role in the defense of our nation. The level of professionalism, skill, and intelligence required of those who wear the uniform today, in my view, has never been higher in our nation’s history, and this level continues to rise. This condition demands flexibility, adaptability, wisdom, and the very best of leadership from its officers, skills I feel certain you have developed over the course of your four years of study and development at the Institute. VMI, Mary Baldwin, Washington & Lee University and Southern Virginia University are proud of its sons and daughters who have prepared themselves for these challenging tasks and who accept the responsibility and duties as officers in the armed forces. Fifty-four years ago, I sat in JM Hall, over there, with my classmates. At that time, commissioning was mandatory for all of us in the Corps. And just like you, I was sworn in as a second lieutenant in the United States Army. I was young, and frankly, I was a very, very green lieutenant. And after the initial schools, I reported in to my first unit, an 8-inch-towed nuclear artillery battalion in Germany, in the midst of that time of the Cold War. Then, Sergeant First Class Floyd Daniels, my chief of firing battery, took me under his care. And I hope you will be as fortunate—and he did that over the next 18 months— and I hope you will be as fortunate as I was because he mentored me in leadership and skills and competency and provided the very best of advice to this green second lieutenant. Now retired in Knoxville, Tennessee, he is here today, and let me ask him to stand up. He is the epitome of our wonderful non-commissioned officer corps. Sergeant Daniels. I certainly know that at this stage before commissioning, you recognize that non-commissioned officers, senior non-commissioned officers, are very important, and they are very, very special. My life was soon to be filled with exacting missions, tough training, rapidly changing responsibilities, assignments around the world, attendance at outstanding professional military schools, and service under remarkable leaders. But above all, I became part of a great team, many times a joint team, and a team of soldiers and families. And you, too, will have those exact same experiences. I congratulate you on the attainment of a commission today. Frame it. Put it on your wall. Keep it on display, and read it with regularity. I still read mine today, up in Smith Hall. It will guide you through this challenging profession that you have chosen. I think it will give you strength in some of the tough decisions that you’re going to have to make. The Institute could not be more proud of you. Your families are proud of you, and you can take just pride in yourself and your many accomplishments to date. Our country is fortunate now with your decision to serve and to lead. Good luck to each of you in the years and days ahead. God bless. Ladies and gentlemen, it is my distinct honor to be able to introduce our commissioning officer, Lieutenant General Joseph Anderson. General Anderson is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and was commissioned as an infantry officer. He has commanded at all levels, from platoon up to command of the 18th Airborne Corps, and deployed numerous times, to include Operation Just Cause in Panama, operations in Albania and Kosovo, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. I can think of no finer officer to officiate over these proceedings. Ladies and gentleman, General Anderson. Good morning, everyone. How’s morale out there? You ready to go? All right. If any of you fall asleep you’re not leaving, all right? General Peay, Admiral Howard, General Hicks, General Neary, distinguished guests, faculty, family, friends, and most importantly, our graduates, thank you for allowing me to join you for this special event. It is truly an honor to be with the Virginia Military Institute commissioning class of 2016, in historic Cameron Hall, on the 152nd anniversary of the battle of New Market. Like those brave cadets of 1864, you are answering your country’s call to duty, and I’d like to be the first one to thank you for doing that. I’d also like to take a moment to remember the 15 service members and alumni from VMI who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country since 2001. These heroes and their families, along with many others wounded in action, serve as an example to each and every one of us. They will forever be in our thoughts and prayers. Today’s graduates, all of you, have been challenged both inside and outside of the classroom during these last four years. I am confident that this great institution has pushed the members of this class to accomplish a great deal. You’ve grown along the way and proven that you’re prepared to lead our soldiers and our airmen and our Marines and our sailors in the years to come. Each and every one of you has much to be proud of. I did not come here today to dwell on the past. I came here to talk about the future and the role of our junior officers. I thought that I would focus my comments today on the most important aspect of this duty, which is leadership, and that’s the foundation of our profession. Soon you will recite the oath of a commissioned officer, thereby signifying the transition from cadets to leaders. Prior to your pledge to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, I want to offer you three pieces of advice. First, leadership is all about people. I’m sure that during your time here, you all made some great friends. This is important because these relationships will help you through some tough times ahead. Likewise, the relationships that you developed here and will form later at other duty stations across the globe will help to sustain you and enhance your effectiveness as leaders. Second, leadership is about maintaining balance—balance between your work and personal lives, your fitness regimen, and your professional development. You’ll be faced with many competing priorities as you make the transition to the profession of arms. It’s easy to become consumed by your work and to be sucked into the day-to-day grind. Don’t let that happen. It’s incumbent upon each of you as leaders to set the example for your subordinates. While here at VMI, that meant effectively managing your time so you could accomplish all of your classwork and other requirements. Upon your departure from here, this will mean leading your organization to accomplish the mission while taking care of your soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and their families along the way. You are all accomplished people, but you have to remember where you came from. Learn to stay grounded, sometimes referred to as staying humble, so you can keep things in perspective. I can’t stress enough how important it is to maintain a sense of humor, and to just be yourself. All of those around you will appreciate your humility because it will make you approachable and someone whom others will want to work with and be around. Third, leadership is about trust. You can be confident that soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines will work tirelessly to find creative solutions to even the most vexing problems when trust exists. Soldiers must trust their leaders, but they must also trust one another. This requires leaders to be honest and candid with those above and below them, and to inculcate a culture of trust within the organization. Simply put, place confidence in your subordinates, peers, and superiors alike, and hold them to the highest standards at all times. So there it is—three brief thoughts on leadership. All of you will now assume that responsibility, so remember that leadership is about people, leadership is about balance, and finally, leadership is about trust. Thank you for your attention today. Congratulations and I wish you all godspeed as you continue along your path in life. We all know that you will make us proud. Enjoy the rest of your big day, best of luck in the years ahead, and I look forward to serving with each and every one of you. Army strong! All right—up! Ladies and gentlemen, it’s my pleasure to introduce our next commissioning officer, Brigadier General Stephen Neary, VMI ’88, so we’re going to welcome the general home. He was our guest speaker for the Marine Corps birthday ball. He knows many of you, and I’m going to do the introduction a little bit longer for everybody so they know him too. So you can read along and look in the bio if you want, but General Neary went to the Basic School—where all Marines go, where you’re going to go— he went there in 1988. Marines, you have to prove yourself and start all over again. When you go to the Basic School, you’ll know that we’ve all walked in those footsteps, and you’re going to walk in ours. General Neary served in the infantry from platoon commander to regimental commander to joint duty assignments and other key leadership positions. He’s currently the deputy commanding general for the Marine Corps’s combat development in Quantico, Virginia, the crossroads of the Marine Corps where education occurs. He’s going to go to the Joint War-fighting Center as the joint staff J-7 south to do all joint training, to coordinate that, which has a strong link to not only all of the services but also NATO and our key allies, and I think the best way to introduce him is to say what’s true: he’s a Marine’s Marine. Brigadier General Steve Neary. Good morning. General Peay, fellow flag and general officers, distinguished guests, parents, family members, and most important, the Class of 2016—the title of my comments this morning is, “If not you, then who?” Class of 2016, and I’m talking to all of you—I have a yes or no question for you, and I would like a verbal answer. Do you feel like you have achieved something? Yes, sir! I’ll ask that again. Class of 2016, do you feel like you’ve achieved something? Yes, sir! Your upbringing, your hard work and commitment to excellence got you here today. But listen to me: your ethics, your ethics, will keep you here. Soon you will take the oath of office, and the second sentence of the oath of office reads: “That I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.” So what does that mean? It means to hold up and support, and die if necessary. It means loyalty. It means semper fidelis—faithfulness to a great piece of paper called the Constitution of these United States. It’s about ethics, ethics being the underpinning of that very sentence. Now the meaning of ethics is hard to pin down. So I’ll clarify this for you because it’s not as simple as dealing with what is morally right or morally wrong when it comes to being a commissioned officer. Ethics are a code or principle upon which one’s character depends. In the Marine Corps, our code is honor, courage, and commitment, and can be summed up in semper fidelis. If you were to discuss ethics at any ordinary college, they would probably say it prescribes what humans ought to do, using terms of rights, obligations, benefits to society, fairness, or specific virtues. Ethics, for example, refers to those standards that impose the reasonable obligations to refrain from lying, cheating, or stealing. But as a commissioned officer, it is more than that because the world is complex, and as a service member, you do not get the easy problems. Because everybody on this stage solved the easy problems yesterday. The hard ones are out there waiting for you tomorrow. You don’t get to go to the nice places. Why? Because they’re nice. You go to the trouble spots, as the general said. What I’m talking about is, how will you behave in the face of difficult situations as you attempt to solve tough problems in austere places which will undoubtedly test your moral fiber? So how do you the ensign, you the second lieutenants, or anyone in the Class of 2016, fulfill the second sentence of the oath? I offer you three things. Be a person of character. Being a person of character means to lead by example. You set the tone and pace of the unit. Your subordinates will watch everything that you do, and you must earn their trust every day. Put yourself beyond reproach. That’s by doing rule No. 1—doing what is right at all times, and do your duty. Point two—know your trade. Be tactically and technically proficient. Learn your job. Become a professional, because you are responsible for accomplishment of the mission. You are responsible for ensuring your unit is prepared, so create a winning team because your subordinates did not join the military to be on a losing team. Be that leader. Three: Take care of your people. Be an officer of Marines. Be an ensign of sailors, an officer of soldiers, an officer of airmen— versus a Marine, Naval, Army, or Air Force officer. There is a subtle difference when you say “I am an officer of Marines” versus “a Marine officer” or “I am an officer of soldiers” versus “I am an Army officer.” Just think about it as you leave here today. Be the servant leader. Be inherently with your people, so you can truly understand the strengths and and weaknesses of the unit. Tend to their needs—troop welfare. I didn’t say be soft, and I didn’t say be hard. I’m telling you to be in front. Set the example, be fair, and love them, because they, just like you, are the 1 percent who decided to serve this great nation. But the difference is, you, the officer, are inherently responsible for mission accomplishment. Remember, you serve the enlisted, and you do that by being a person of character, knowing your trade, and taking care of them. Our nation, and the parents of those men and women whom you lead, rightfully expect you to be of solid character, to know your job, and to take care of their child. So as you march, sail, or fly to the sound of the guns, know that your hard work got you here, but your ethics will keep you there. You, yes you, must be the ethical and moral high ground. If not you, then who on that battlefield? Thank you very much. I ask the Marines to go ahead and stand up. It’s my pleasure now to introduce the 38th vice chief of Naval operations, Admiral Michelle Howard, United States Navy, as today’s commissioning officer for our midshipmen, our ensigns. VMI Navy ROTC will commission the most Navy and Marine Corps officers from all of the 77 Navy ROTC units in the United States. She is a Naval Academy graduate, and I encourage you to, if you have a chance, to read her biography. It’s historic. She’s historic. She’s commanded ships. She’s commanded warfare groups. I have served under her command, and I will tell you that she’s a friend of sailors and a friend of Marines, and perfect to be here today to commission you. Admiral Howard. Colonel, thank you for that warm welcome. And history just happens when you’ve served 34 years. It really doesn’t have anything to do with what you’ve done. And some of you may be wondering—why is a Marine colonel introducing the vice chief of Naval operations? And I think sometimes we forget the obvious—that we are one military department, and that has been who we are, and the strength of our Navy and Marine Corps, before there was a Navy, going back to the time of John Paul Jones, on a borrowed ship, the Bonhomme Richard, in a battle against the Serapis, where he won the battle and uttered those wonderful words of heritage for me, “I have not yet begun to fight.” We forget that it was American Marines in the rigging who were snipers, who made a difference in that battle, so thank you for that strength and relationship going back several hundred years. So good morning. Well, VMI staff, friends, family, and faculty, thank you for inviting me to speak and the honor of giving this commissioning oath, and I just wanted to say thank you. All of you have supported the men and women we see in front of us over the past four years. And cadets, in a few moments you’ll repeat the oath after me—and it is the same oath that has been uttered by those who have gone before us for the past 150 years. It was last changed during the Civil War when we inserted words to remind prospective service members that our obligations need to include honor, service, and leadership, and that they are a solemn choice. When I ask you to raise your hand in a few minutes, you will swear that you will take this obligation freely. We do take this obligation freely. We are choosing to take it. Henry David Thoreau once said, “I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.” And as we assemble today to elevate our lives as Naval officers, the oath is your first conscious endeavor. In the coming years, some of you may repeat this oath once or twice. Some of you may repeat it dozens of times over a career. And it doesn’t matter how long your service lasts, but it does matter that your oath is a conscious endeavor. And leadership is a choice. Each one of you volunteered for this adventure, so choose to be a leader every day. Rear Admiral Joseph Yon attended VMI in 1937. He freely made his own courageous choice, when he was commissioned as a medical officer in 1938. Four years and three oaths later, Lieutenant Yon was treading water in the Pacific after his ship, the Pecos, was bombed by a Japanese carrier group and sank. Joseph Yon spent 45 minutes before the Pecos went underneath the waters, ensuring that the injured men under his care were evacuated. He would spend time in the water, and then climb into the rescue boats to tend to the injured men. And then he would jump back into the water to make room, and ensure that other crew members were able to rest. Rear Admiral Yon chose to lead as the Pecos was bombed and sinking. He chose to lead while treading water amongst the wreckage and under enemy fire. And when a year later, he had recovered from his injuries, he asked to return to sea duty and chose to lead again in the Pacific Theater. Again and again, Admiral Yon chose leadership, at every rank from ensign to rear admiral, and each time Yon said the oath, it was with more experience, more knowledge, and a deeper understanding of the commitment he was making, like you are about to do today. Yon made a conscious endeavor to uphold the oath he took, so today when you raise your right hand and take the oath, you are starting this journey with choice. You are embracing the obligation of office, not for yourselves, but for the good of the country, and I can only admire your patriotism and welcome you, our newest leaders, to the fleet. Congratulations. Please rise and repeat the oath. All right. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. It is my distinct pleasure to introduce today’s Air Force commissioning officer, Major General Mark Hicks. General Hicks is a 1986 VMI graduate who majored in electrical engineering. Following pilot training, he flew AC-130 gun ships. You probably know the AC-130. It’s a heavily armed ground-attack aircraft which can unleash devastating firepower on enemy forces. Well, General Hicks is not just a pilot but a weapons officer on the AC-130, one of the very best of the best. He has commanded airmen at the squadron, group, and wing level. His career includes key Air Force and joint staff assignments at Air Force major commands and at the Pentagon. At his current assignment, he is the chief of staff for the United States Special Operations Command. Ladiea and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming Major General Mark Hicks. General Peay, General Jumper, Admiral Howard, fellow generals, distinguished guests, friends and family of the Virginia Military Institute, and most importantly, the Class of 2016, it is truly an honor for me to be here today because 30 years to the day, I was commissioned here, sitting where you sit. And because I have some insight into what you are feeling right now—I know many of you are tired, anxious for this to be over, possibly hung over—possibly, and mostly uninterested in what people like me have to say, but since you will remember little of what I have to say, I will try to be brief. I’ll pass on some insights and hopefully useful advice that you may be able to remember. In an observation up front, you’ll see a theme here, but I promise you that none of us coordinated our remarks. Like I said, I was commissioned here 30 years ago to this day, so this is a real treat for me, so General Peay, thanks again. But I was commissined into a very different world. It was the tail end of the Cold War, and for those in the Class of 1986, it seemed like war was mostly an historical phenomenon. There was no assurance that we would be allowed to ply our trade regardless of our service branch or specialty. As a young lieutenant in the 16th Special Operations squadron, where I flew the AC-130 for all of my operational flying, it felt a bit like a flying club, where you trained hard but never really expected to do anything. Well, I guess I should have paid more attention to the motto inscribed on our squadron coin, often attributed to Plato. That said, “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” Because the end of the Cold War has ushered in a new and historic era of conflict that for me began as a first lieutenant in Just Cause. It hasn’t stopped since, and there is no end in sight. And you, on the other hand, have elected and chosen of your own free will to join and seek a commission in a period of prolonged conflict unknown in the history of the nation. You were, in fact, born into combat, because at least for the Air Force, we’ve been flying combat operations every single day since 1990. I commend you on your willingness to serve in a time of conflict, and I welcome you to the top 1 percent, because as General Neary mentioned, less than 1 percent of this nation chooses to serve in uniform. Thus you will bear a disproportionate share of the responsibility for defending the security of our nation and our way of life. You’ve chosen to serve in the profession of arms, a profession which will provide you the most amazing and enriching experiences available to mankind. Embrace the adventure, and by your actions, honor the legacy of those who’ve gone before you. So to try to help you with your journey, I’ll provide you with some insight related to the final line of the commissioning oath, “That I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I’m about to enter, so help me God.” As to how to well and faithfully discharge your duties, I offer you three thoughts. First, some of the best advice I’ve ever received, much of it here at VMI, was to make your job, the job you have, the best job you’ll ever have. It sounds a bit of a cliche and I suppose it is, but it’s elegant in its simplicity. Moreover, if you don’t put your heart and your head into the job you currently have, no one will ever want to advance you to the job that you may actually want. I suspect you’ll find, as I have, that those jobs that you didn’t really want or didn’t value are more interesting, more important, and more challenging, than you ever would have believed. You”ll also find great people, just like yourselves, who really didn’t want to be in that job, either, and who are heroically and quietly trying to do their best in the jobs they have. They, and hopefully you, will be recognized if you work hard and serve well. Nonetheless, you will have setbacks, bad assignments, and disappointments, both in your professional and personal lives. But the way forward is always by going forward. As Winston Churchill may or may not have said, depending on your Internet source, “When going through hell, keep going.” Ask for help when you need it, and offer it to others when you can, because life in the military, like life itself, is a fantastic and amazing journey. But it will come with challenges, disappointments, and rewards that you cannot yet imagine. Trust in what you’ve learned here, and you will go far. Second, underpromise and overdeliver. Let me say that again: underpromise and overdeliver. In a different age, we may have said, “Say what you mean and mean what you say,” which is the same idea. What’s important to understand is that the world is full of individuals and organizations that overpromise and underdeliver, thus the fastest way to lose your professional credibility is to fail to deliver on what you said you were going to do. I believe this extends to your personal relationships as well. And I cannot overstress how important it is for you to do what you say you will do. Don’t make excuses, don’t quibble, and do not fail. Here, too, what you’ve learned at VMI will serve you well. Third, and most importantly, faithfully discharge the duties to yourself first. Guard your integrity and your reputation with your very lives because when we are all gone, our legacy is ultimately the reputation for integrity and service. And I now find it interesting, since I no longer worry as much about what my parents think, to think about how I would explain my actions to my children and someday my grandchildren. None of us wants to try to explain to our grandchildren why we were drummed out of some position of responsibility for lack of integrity. Again, trust in what you’ve learned and what you’ve practiced here, and you will go far. That’s it. That’s all I have for you—three simple ideas. Do your job well. Work through difficulties. Underpromise and overdeliver, and guard your integrity with your lives. So in closing, let me let you in on a little secret. The 30 years since I sat where you sit have gone by faster than the four that preceded it. And you are about to find that this is a much better Institute to be from than to be in. As you well know, the spartan environment and all sorts of hardships and challenges are not equal to the many educational opportunities, and I’ve found that the reputation established by the likes of General Marshall, General Peay, General Jumper, General McDew, General Darnell, and others, is well known and well respected. So my challenge to you is to go forth and expand the reputation of the Institute. I wish you all success in your careers and in your lives. Congratulations. Military officers—which is now you all—this in the military is what we call commander’s guidance. It is now up to you to go and execute to the utmost. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in showing our appreciation as we recognize our military’s newly commissioned officers with a round of applause. Please rise for the playing of the Armed Forces Medley and remain standing while the stage party departs. Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes the joint commissioning ceremony. Please join us at the individual ROTC pin-on ceremonies. The Army’s ceremony will be conducted at the Center for Leadership and Ethics. Navy and Marine Corps will remain here in Cameron Hall, and the Air Force will be located in Jackson Memorial Hall. We ask that the audience remain off the ceremony floor to allow the Naval ROTC unit to set up for its individual pin-on ceremonies. Thank you for your attendance today.

Michael Martin

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