On the wall of my bedroom, I have a rather large frame. It holds a certificate stating that I had been inducted into the “Distinguished Order of the Servant-Leader” in October of 2005. I and a friend of mine, Wes Ransom, were among the first civilian college students to have received the award in anyone’s memory. Needless to say, I was quite proud of myself. But, there was one thing missing. My best friend wasn’t there. You see, Josh was embarking on a different journey. That hot, humid Sunday afternoon in the Georgia fall, Josh was leaving behind the safe confines of our hometown to embark on what is, for anyone, a life altering journey. He was on his way to a small island off the coast of South Carolina where they make Marines.
|Josh with me and LTC Ed Shelor (USMC Ret) who is an
Assistant Professor of History at Georgia Military College
A few months later, I did get a visit from Josh on campus. After he finished his initial training, the Marine Corps sent him back to recruit. One of his stops was Georgia Military College. Never would have I expected then what was to take place in the coming years.
I graduated from GMC, then went on to Georgia College. Josh graduated School of Infantry, then joined the fleet with the 3rd Battalion 6th Marines in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He went on to complete two tours of duty in Iraq before completing his contract to the Corps and transferring to inactive reserves.
Josh surprised me when he did not reenlist, and instead he decided to go college. By this time, I was in grad school. He had decided he wanted to go into physical therapy and begin his studies at my alma mater, Georgia Military College along with his younger brother, Jake, who was studying history.
He had already more than proved himself on the battlefield. Soon, he excelled academically as well. I graduated from Georgia College, and took an instructors job at GMC. For the past year, it has amazed me how his fellow students flock to him and how they speak of him even when he is not around. Tonight, Josh (and Jake, who will be unable to attend due to military duty) will graduate from Georgia Military College. Not only will he walk across the stage with a 4.0 GPA, but he will receive an even higher award. He has been named the Distinguished Graduate for the institution. The nomination, written by LTC Shelor, reads as follows:
Joshua S. Rogers is a full-time commuter student who is without parallel among his graduating peers. He is the quintessential scholar/leader who has maintained a 4.00 GPA while completing his studies at GMC in an Associate in Science in General Studies. The habit of success is one of the cornerstones of Joshua’s way of life and he’s shown good academic and character traits from the first day he stepped on this campus. He is a positive example and inspiration for his fellow students and even the faculty in his classes. Mr. Rogers is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the junior college honor society for academic success and servant leadership, and can be seen on any given day providing assistance to his fellow students all around the GMC campus. Mr. Rogers exemplifies the three words to live by that GMC emphasizes by his consistent display of Duty, Honor, Country. Joshua enlisted in the USMC in 2005 and eventually rose to the rank of Sergeant. As a Corporal of Marines he served as a fire team leader in combat in Iraq from January – July 2007 and moved up to squad leader from March 2008 – October 2008. It is a rare thing to have a student in our classes that has been through the crucible of combat , who has been truly tested in matters of life and death, yet he is one of the gentle scholars who brings such honor and humility to our campus. Joshua now brings his maturity and critical thinking skills to every aspect of his association with GMC and is most deserving of the highest recognition GMC can bestow on it students.
He is a true scholar that adds intellectual rigor to the course of study for all his classmates. His cultural literacy, higher order of thinking skills, and desire for knowledge mark him among the top ONE percent of students I have ever known in my academic career. In class he embodies all the characteristics of a standout leader and role model. He also thinks beyond the material and brings his own intellectual and deeply spiritual perspective to discussions.
I will be there tonight. I will be in my robe, my hood, my stole, and my cords. Josh will be in his Dress Blues. I know his parents will be proud. But, I also know that the pride they have for Josh’s accomplishments will at best be equal to the pride I have for him, to know him, and the honor I have in calling him my friend.
|Jake, me, and Josh at a friend’s wedding a few years ago.|