Cadets Take Oath, Give First Salutes
LEXINGTON, Va., May 15, 2017 – Approximately 160 new second lieutenants and ensigns took their oaths to commission into the armed forces Monday morning in Cameron Hall.
The ceremony marked the end of four years of serious study and work and the beginning of a life of service to the nation, said superintendent Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III ’62 during the ceremony.
Lt. Gen. Gary Cheek, director of U.S. Army staff, was one of four commissioning officers at the ceremony, and he reminded the cadets their choice to serve their country distinguished them from their peers who are not entering the military.
“I want you to be the leader who you want to lead you,” he said. “Think about that in terms of physical fitness, not just achieve minimum standards but the highest standards.”
Cheek told cadets to be inspired and to inspire the soldiers, sailors, airmen, or Marines they may lead. More than 100 cadets commissioned into the U.S. Army as second lieutenants.
Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, director for strategic plans and policy for the Joint Staff, said it was not necessary for the new officers to remember the words he said but, instead, to remember the words in the oath they spoke later in the ceremony.
“Remember the handful of words you are going to swear to in a few minutes. It’s absolutely the core of what we have as professional soldiers,” McKenzie said. “The phrase ‘I will bear faith and allegiance,’ sums up the ethical core of a professional officer.”
McKenzie advised cadets to be aware of the legacy they leave behind. He administered the oath to sixteen Marine-option cadets.
Rear Adm. Stephen Evans, the commander of the Naval Service Training Command, said the new ensigns of the U.S. Navy must realize going forward that they have chosen the noblest pursuit: to provide security to those at home.
“No matter what branch [of the military], our core values are the same,” he said. “As officers, you will be held to a higher standard, embrace that.”
He advised the 26 new officers to lead by example – to be a team player and a team builder. Evans added that diversity is what makes the U.S. military the most powerful in the world.
“Commissioning in today’s world may be intimidating, but I don’t see that in your eyes,” Evans said.
Lt. Gen. Jerry Harris, deputy chief of staff for strategic plans, programs, and requirements at the U.S. Air Force headquarters, spoke to 14 commissioning cadets of the constantly changing environment and technology for new officers.
“Do your job … do it the best to your abilities,” he said. “Your country is counting on you to be an expert in your first job.”
Following the ceremony, the commissioned officers had their insignia pinned on by family and friends in locations across post, where they offered their first salutes as U.S. military officers.