Ladies and gentlemen, it is indeed an honor to be here today as we celebrate academic achievement and excellence. I am proud to say I have once sat where you are now. However, I’m not quite so proud to say there have been times as I continued in my academic career when I was not eligible for academic honors you now enjoy. To that end, keep up the good work and maintain your standard of excellence.
The character of Sam Seaborne in the television series “The West Wing” once said, “Education is the silver bullet. Education is everything.” Indeed, increased education leads to increased employability, increased lifetime earnings, and increased job security. Education benefits not only the individual, but society as a whole. An educated citizenry is more likely to participate in the political process, an idea which is very near and dear to my heart, and an educated workforce also increases economic development opportunities for a given area, which leads to more and higher paying jobs.
There are many places which offer an education. It is easy to offer classroom lectures and to assign textbooks, but there are very few places which offer such a complete education as Georgia Military College. The prep school boasts of “developing the intellect and elevating the character,” but this applies not only to the prep school, but also the entire institution. Life is more than possessing the ability to recite answers on an examination. A complete education requires both intellect and character, and both are well grounded in the history and the traditions of GMC.
Wherever we might turn on this campus, we are reminded of core values of “Duty, Honor, and Country” and to keep “Character above All.” We are supported by a proud tradition of those who have gone before us. A few weeks ago, alumni from the last 75 years gathered to celebrate that tradition of which you now hold a part. They spoke of stories of times gone by. They remembered those who had walked with them and whose journey had been completed. The campus has changed since they walked these halls and stood formation on these grounds; the campus has even changed since my days as a student here. Yet, though the physical attributes of campus may change, the traditions do not. You are the heirs to their legacy as you continue your studies, graduate, and then venture out into the world.
The journey which you have undertaken is not an easy one, and yet, you have excelled. The journey which is before you will likewise not be easy. The words of one of my former professors, who was famous for his difficult exams, upon returning the first test in the class, which is typically the lowest grade, most certainly applies.
“Things will get harder. The further we go, the more you have to consider. You must learn more quickly than the difficulty increases.”
You have set the standard for yourself. You have shown your capacity for excellence. Continue to follow that standard.
We are the children of the same traditions. We are the family of Georgia Military College. And now, as we continue on our journeys, I leave you with a paraphrase of the Charge to the Brigade from the epic film, Gods and Generals. I trust when I shall hear your names in the future it will be of more noble deeds accomplished, victories won, and even greater excellence proven. Remember on your journey, “Character above all.” For when we from these halls have parted and life’s battles won, the great spirit of GMC shall inspire us ‘til eternal dawn.