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West Point’s Class of 1988 - A Rare Level of Leadership

“The Worst Class Ever!” - Former Commandant of Cadets

I just spent an entire weekend with some of America’s greatest leaders. They are 4 star generals leading at the highest level in our military - Chief of Staff of the Army. They are leaders in the public sector - Governor of Louisiana. They are law enforcement leaders - Police Chiefs and SWAT commanders. I was surrounded by people I respect and that I love. They are the best America has to offer and they continue to serve wherever they are in their careers.

Most of us are 57-58 years old. Most of us are on our second, third or fourth iteration of our careers. Most of us are thinking about the next step - retirement. But what I did not hear a single person say was they were quitting. Every person had plans. Every person had a plan to impact the world and make it better.

West Point’s motto is Duty, Honor, Country. The men and women of West Point’s Class of 1988 still believe and still live by those three hallowed words. What is truly amazing is how many of the spouses of the class of 1988 also live by those words. Those words are a guide, a flag that races in front of us that draws our attention and makes us want to be better individuals, better partners, better teammates, and better leaders.

At one point in our cadet career the Commandant of Cadets famously called the Class of 1988 “The Worst Class Ever!” after an infamous party we held as seniors. But history has shown the Class of 1988 is unmatched in recent decades when it comes to military leadership. Our class had at least 29 soldiers reach the rank of general officer. Most of the classes in the 80’s and early 90’s averaged about 10. I was surrounded by giants when it came to military leaders. But I was also surrounded by servants. Men and women who I would follow anywhere. Not because of the rank they held, but because of who they are - Leaders of Character.

Now as the class winds down its years of military service to our country, I want to publicly thank all of my brothers and sisters who made a career of putting themselves in harm's way for each of us who call the United States our home. I also want to thank all the rest of the classmates and the spouses I spent time with at our reunion.

Yes, I heard the National Anthem, the Army Fight Song and other things meant to inspire me. But nothing inspired me more than my time with the greatest group of leaders I have ever and will ever be around. I want to grow up to be like so many of you. You live by our motto Duty, Honor, Country.

You strive to “Choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.” You serve without looking for recognition. You lead without looking for glory. You are the type of leaders that inspire me and have inspired and continue to inspire a whole new generation of leaders in our country.

I am honored to call you all (or Y’all as we say in Texas) my friends.

No Task Too Great! 88!

Beat Navy!


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