(A speech by Rene Jarque published in The Corps Nov-Dec 1994, Issue 95-04)
To the Ladies and Gentlemen of the Corps, I welcome this opportunity to tell you some things about three very important words – COURAGE, INTEGRITY, LOYALTY. You might be wondering what business a captain has in saying these things. As an officer and a Cavalier, I feel that it is my duty to do so, to share what I believe are essentials so you may be forewarned and consequently, forearmed, to face the challenges and temptations that will surely come your way when you graduate and become officers. Ideals do not distinguish among ranks. COURAGE, INTEGRITY, LOYALTY is not the monopoly of colonels and generals. I have known corporals, sergeants, lieutenants and captains who, I believe, displayed more courage, more integrity and more loyalty. I feel that now is the right time to talk about these ideals when they are still fresh and untainted in my heart and mind.
Let me begin by saying that the aim of your education in the Academy is centered not much on knowledge of facts but of values and the formation of character resplendent with COURAGE, INTEGRITY, LOYALTY. Character can only be molded through a steady, continuous process. Four years may not be enough to unlearn or reinforce the values you had before you came to the Academy. The Academy will give you only the inspiration and the guide. You have crossed the starting line and it will be up to you to go through life and to reach the finish line as upright or dishonest man.
COURAGE, INTEGRITY, LOYALTY. It is not merely a catch phrase or a selling line of the Academy. Neither are they mere flamboyant words nor frivolous slogans. They are more than just ideals. They constitute a way of life here and beyond the portals of the Academy. Let not cynics, skeptics and demagogues malign or underestimate the power embodied in those words. Like a drop of water which, when turned to ice, can carve valleys and grow nations, which when turned to steam can run powerful engines and build economies, ideals are latent powerhouses which when acted upon become powerful forces that can shape destinies and build greatness in individuals and nations.
COURAGE, INTEGRITY, LOYALTY. Those three words are as inseparable as charcoal, saltpeter and sulfur in gunpowder. One without the other would not be enough to ignite even the slightest spark. A true, professional officer embodies all three. He who is lacking in one is a lost soul who is easily intimidated by the challenges of life and who falls prey to the slightest temptations.
COURAGE, INTEGRITY, LOYALTY. They are your lodestar, your compass, your rallying point. They serve as your guiding light and source of strength and hope. Together, the form the sextant as well as the fixed star. They are both means and ends; weapon as well as shield. They are both agony and glory; direction as well as destiny.
COURAGE. All of us have fears, even the bravest of soldiers. Men of courage are those who act despite those fears. As officers, your men will expect you to be with them at the front, to share in their sacrifices, to lead them in battle. More than bravery in the battlefield however, is moral courage, the courage of conviction. This is the courage to stand up in defense of truth, justice and professionalism, even at the expense of oneï¿½s career and oneï¿½s life. No one, subordinate, peer or superior, should bully you into a breach of your principles. Moral courage is also the courage to swallow oneï¿½s pride and admit mistakes and correct them.
INTEGRITY. Integrity has three elements: honor, competence and morality. Honor is embodied in the statement, ï¿½An officer does not lie, cheat, steal nor tolerate those who doï¿½. It is doing the right things and not just doing things right in order to get ahead, to be promoted or get good assignments. Sycophancy and putting down others is the worst possible way to rise in rank. Honor is not always absolute nor clear cut as black and white but a conscientious officer knows when to draw the line. An officer who knowingly and intentionally trades his morals on the altar of corruption for pure personal gain has lost all sense of decency and integrity. He is not worthy of being called an officer.
Competence is being physically and mentally able. It is knowing and doing the job right. A competent leader knows, follows and even exceeds the standards. On the other hand, it is impossible for an incompetent leader to adhere to a proper standard of performance since he does not know nor appreciate what standards to begin with. The Academy will give you limited skills and it is your duty to constantly seek self-improvement personally and professionally. Life is an endless education. Knowledge is boundless. Never be complacent with the present.
Competence is shown the quality of your work. Always strive for excellence. Give your best in everything that you do. However, do understand that perfect performance is not expected but absolute honesty is. The expectation of a reward should not be your only motivation. Rather, believe that the greatest reward is the knowledge that you have done your best you could. A job well done is its own reward.
Morality. Be a living example of goodness and virtue in what you say and do – in the family, in the community, among friends and comrades at work. Do not engage in vices or criminal activities. Get the job done while maintaining the highest standards of personal and professional conduct. Never forget that our most valuable military asset is not some new technology, it is our soldiers. Treat them with respect, dignity and impartiality. As leaders, create a culture that will uphold discipline and right conduct at all times.
LOYALTY. Put your faith in the common good, the organization and the country. True loyalty rises above blind personal loyalty. Loyalty to your superiors must always be tempered with the knowledge, responsibility and conscience that place mission and welfare of the troops above all. It must be founded on truth. Do not tell your commander what he wants to hear. Tell it like it is. Commanders are not always right. If you think he is wrong, tell him. If you think you have a better idea, convince him with all the enthusiasm you can muster.
With the troops, always remember that loyalty is two-way. It is based on trust and trust is measured by commitments kept everyday. The troops will be loyal to you as long as you remain loyal to them, showing the sincerest regard for their welfare and maintaining the highest standards of professionalism. Forget the mission, neglect the troops, be corrupt and you will lose their loyalty faster than you can blink your eye.
There is a standing jest among graduates that due to inherent curvature of the bullring, the word Integrity, located at the center, between courage and loyalty, is the first to be erased over years of friction – friction referring to dishonorable conduct. But really, why is Integrity at the center? I do not know exactly what our forbears in the Long Gray Line reasoned but I do believe that is where it rightfully belongs. Integrity is the binding force of courage and loyalty. True courage and true loyalty spring from integrity. From it, the other two rightfully falls into place.
COURAGE, INTEGRITY, LOYALTY. Living up to those ideals will inevitably push you to rock the boat and stick your neck out. In your quest for the best, for truth and honor, you will be branded a troublemaker, an iconoclast, a deviant or a rebel. You will be frustrated at the narrow-mindedness and indifference of others. Be consoled by the fact that all progress of civilization is due to the constructive thinking and doing of people. The records of history shine with deeds of men and women who courageously challenged the status quo and said, ï¿½I canï¿½, while it is deafeningly silent on those who listened to their fears and said ï¿½I cannotï¿½.
It will ask you to take sides, to take a position and remain true even under the scrutiny of many, when the wish to be accepted and welcomed can force you to compromise your ideals. Incompetence cannot be condoned nor dishonest behavior excused in the name of expediency or social considerations. It will open you to failure, criticism and disillusionment which can scare the bravest souls. But an officer who is brave, competent and honorable regards all these challenges to be faced and resolved with courageous patience. He views failures not as obstacles but as stepping stones to greater things in work or in life.
You must never tolerate compromises that go against your values. You must always ponder your decisions on ethical considerations. The Armed Forces has become what it is now because of many compromises in the past that were tolerated and even praised by spineless officers who did not have the moral courage to stand up against the very enemies of military professionalism – sycophancy, incompetence and corruption.
The Armed Forces you will venture into in the next few months will not exactly live up to your expectations. Do not allow your frustration to lead you astray and become apathetic, drifting crowd. Be guided by the thought that the Armed Forces is only as good as its officers and leaders. Its moral character as a whole can be no better than the moral character of the officers and enlisted personnel taken together. And you are one of them.
The military profession is unique in the sense that it turns to its hallowed past to find a point of unity and to articulate its identity. Unfortunately, we do not have a pantheon of heroes, no towering figures of military statesmanship who can serve as enduring examples of COURAGE, INTEGRITY, LOYALTY. Maybe from your ranks will come our great captains and heroes in the future.
Todayï¿½s materialistic and tolerant society has, in many ways, made the pursuit of a noble military life, with its simple, genteel pleasures, all the more difficult and challenging. The lure of the good life, of beer and skittles, of opulence and ease, would surely make every man think twice of becoming a soldier and every soldier, of remaining as one. It is easy to be tempted, to make a rash decision and give in to temptation. However, a man of greater ideals and nobility of purpose looks beyond the physical and material. A true soldier considers his sacrifice a duty that one must necessarily endure in service to the nation. He knows that he must forego some of the good things in life in order to remain true to his duty and ideals.
As officers, you will be responsible for looking after the standards. You should always strive to make ethical decisions under the most intense pressures and learn from the experience. Learn to understand that every decision you will make boils down to your values. That hence, it is important that those values are on the side of what is right and noble. Every noble act is like a brick that, layer upon layer, build your character. Always remember that an officer who values privileges more than principles is bound to lose both. Living up to your ideals may not lead you to star rank but it will give you the highest satisfactions of life: dignity and self-respect.
We live in a world that is ever-changing. So much is changing and will change but COURAGE, INTEGRITY, LOYALTY endure and transcend time. As the repository of those values, the Academy is an enduring symbol of the true, the noble and the high, not only for Peemayers but for the entire Officer Corps. It is also the storehouse of the customs and traditions of the Armed Forces which serves as our link to the legacy of the past and gives us identity and strength to brave an uncharted future. When you are already out there, always look back to the Academy as the bedrock of those values and your source of fortitude and inspiration. When you feel discouraged and down, come back here and be renewed with the spiritual strength of COURAGE, INTEGRITY, LOYALTY.
You are now on a journey that is filled with opportunities but also fraught with dangers and sacrifices. The road is uncertain, sometime perilous. Be honored in being the heirs of a proud tradition and protectors of a great ideal. Labor to keep alive in your breasts the nobility of spirit to endure sacrifice and keep the torch ablaze. Only by being a living example of COURAGE, INTEGRITY, LOYALTY can one live up to the words of the Cadet Prayer wherein we implore the Almighty, as we should always do, ï¿½to teach us to aspire above the level of common livesï¿½to give us that honest purpose in life which seeks fair deal with everyone, spurns all forms of hypocrisyï¿½ and smothers all forms of cowardice and fearï¿½to place all issues above personal considerations and shun compromise with vice and injusticeï¿½to trail the difficult paths rather than to stray on easier waysï¿½.
COURAGE, INTEGRITY, LOYALTY. Yours is an ideal that lifts common men to greatness. Many aspire for it but only a chosen few have the courage and willingness to sacrifice and to live by it. Even fewer are prepared to give their lives for it.
Good luck to all of you.