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Commentary from the Free Enterprise Foundation, Ethical Standard More Thought Provoking Commentary!
August 24, 2010
You are invited to read this commentary from the Free Enterprise Foundation. It will make you think!
Welcome Back, Corps 2010
By Robert E. Freer, Jr., President of The Free Enterprise Foundation
Every successful institution must constantly renew itself. Here at the Citadel, we have had to do that over the past four years against the reality of constantly declining support from state government. With less than ten percent of our support now coming from the state, we really are on our own to pave the road to our continuing success. In my view during this challenging time, the school has done a great job of balancing resources, program quality, student cost and preservation of that essence of being a special place that makes The Citadel unique.
We must be doing something right. During this period of tremendous financial challenge, we have witnessed ever increasing numbers of “Knobs,” the raw material for us to work our magic, finding their way to our door. This year’s class, which will be here by the time you read this, is expected to be somewhere between 725 and 750 new recruits to the Corps of Cadets. These young men and women are but a trace of the almost three million youngsters finding their way to colleges across the land.
Our students, along with those to the federally operated service academies and our colleagues up in Virginia at VMI are the rarest of breeds. They are not looking for raucous times or greater freedom than they enjoyed in high school but the challenge of a difficult course of study and an even more difficult transformation within the Corps of Cadets from adolescents into the principled leaders that our nation needs, and The Citadel has been producing for more than a century and a half.
As part of our ongoing effort to strengthen the leadership segment of our education and to supplement the strong program that exists for knobs that transforms them into proud members of the Corps of Cadets in their first year at The Citadel, this year we are particularly pleased to be adding a unique element of leadership training designed for our sophomore class and to be doing so in conjunction with the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. (The Foundation)
It is wholly appropriate that the Congressional Medal of Honor Society (The Society) should call Charleston its home. Chartered by the 85th Congress to be made up of those living recipients of the Nation’s highest military award, the Society creates an organizational home for those who have received the Medal of Honor. It is common to all recipients that their wartime deeds form an unbreakable “dedication to the protection and preservation of the dignity, honor and name of the Medal of Honor;”and a continued desire to make manifest what service to the nation, its citizens, and promotion of allegiance to the Constitution of the United States means. The Society fosters patriotism and inspires and encourages the youth of America to become worthy citizens. The pillars of value upon which the Society is founded are Courage, Integrity, Commitment Sacrifice, Responsible Citizenship and Patriotism.
It is an article of faith that these values provide the foundation for a worthy life not just in battle but in everyday life. For many years after the creation of the Society, members continued to travel our land explaining the Medal and the importance of the values for which it stands at the individual expense of its members, who constantly appeared when and where asked to explain what it means to be a recipient. A chance meeting in 1999 by one recipient with a thankful citizen, John G Rangos, a tough, self made, patriotic Philadelphia businessman led to the incorporation of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation.
Mr. Rangos, aghast that the recipients paid for their own travel to meet the educational requests that came their way, spurred the founding and initial funding of the foundation with his own funds. More recently, its all star board, including his son, have been very successful in finding not only travel funding, but also funds for the Society’s national headquarters at Patriot’s Point and for the innovative educational program that is sweeping through the states to insure our children receive a proper grounding in those values that make our nation great.
You might say that with more than a century and a half of producing principled leaders, it would be inevitable that The Citadel and The Foundation would find each other. We are excited that has come true for this academic year. The Citadel’s mission is to educate and prepare graduates to become principled leaders in all walks of life by instilling the Core Values of The Citadel in a challenging intellectual environment. Our pursuit of those values creates as our goal that every graduate exhibit a firm respect for Academic Excellence, Duty, Honor, Morality, Discipline, and Diversity. We are pleased that our path has now joined with that traveled by The Foundation, to establish a special course for our sophomores that will integrate the Society’s Pillars with the Citadel’s Core Values in a graphic and powerful experience to make concrete what these values are all about.
Together with the Erie City, Pennsylvania School District The Foundation has created an educational module for their school system that permits use at different levels of educational development on the lessons of personal bravery and self sacrifice by the recipients and their comrades who may not have received the Medal but were equally tested. The educational materials draw heavily on filmed vignettes with the recipients and involve students in an array of different learning exercises to help them relate on a personal level with the experience of the recipients and what it means to be part of a free society dependent on its citizen’s sacrifice for its continued existence. The Pennsylvania experience has caught on in a number of states, and I hope will be part of the South Carolina school system before too long. The course at The Citadel will feature many of the same materials integrated into a term long course designed for our sophomore class. It is a serendipity that this is happening at the same time we are hosting the annual meeting of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society here in Charleston and the remaining recipients will be very much in evidence around town and here on campus between September 28 and October 3, 2010. We at the Citadel are looking forward to giving all of the remaining members of The Society a very warm welcome and to continuing to develop our budding educational partnership in the future.
Copyright © 2010 by Robert E. Freer, Jr. All rights reserved
About the author: Robert E. Freer, Jr., is president of the Free Enterprise Foundation. He is also the first BB&T Visiting Professor in Ethics and Free Enterprise Leadership at The Citadel. A regular contributor to the Mercury, Prof. Freer may be reached at Robert.firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like him to appear before your group or organization to speak on any of the subjects about which he writes, please contact him at The Citadel. Copies of his earlier columns may be found at The Free Enterprise Foundation
This article may be republished unedited in its entirety provided that copyright statement and author by-lines are kept intact and unchanged and hyperlinks and/or URLs provided by the author remain active.
Please sent any comments to Robert Freer, President of The Free Enterprise Foundation
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