Like many of you, I have been reflecting on and fully processing what happened in Washington last week. The events we witnessed were jarring and ultimately tragic.
Today, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and our Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Gilday, issued a joint statement. Together, they remind us of our mission, and of the oaths we took to support and defend the Constitution of the United States; the very foundation of our democracy. “Any act to disrupt the Constitutional process is not only against our traditions, values, and oath; it is against the law.”
As a military, we will support the peaceful transition of power. As military leaders, both uniformed and civilian, we will offer by our example a guidepost of what is possible as moral and ethical leaders united by integrity, service, and common purpose.
Here at NPS, we are in a further unique and respected position. As both a military command and an institution of higher learning, our students, faculty, and staff offer the best our country and partner allies have to offer. We are thoughtful, and thought leaders; we develop critical thinkers to discern fact from falsehood; and we are also experts and experienced warriors. The same professionalism that differentiates us in times of war equips and prepares us to make a difference in times of crises. Learning and leading is part of our NPS culture, which sets us apart, and calls upon us to reflect on the highest ideals of our military, of our citizenship, and of our nation.
An e-mail message to me by a concerned member of our community included a poignant quote from Theodore Roosevelt’s biography that serves us well, here, now, as a university and change agent: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Our decency as a nation depends on our decency to and for each other. How we relate together, approach problems, communicate,and support each other and our neighbors, provides an important steady hand steering sturdily through uncertainty, which helps to restore faith in our institutions and our shared future.
As time passes, the enduring mark these events leave on our nation is an unknown. What is not unknown is the lasting impact we can have on each other, our community, our services, and our nation. These are choices we make. Through our actions as leaders, we are accountable for ourselves and obligated to others.
There is strength in knowing that what matters most are our enduring values, and they are most meaningful when in service to our mission and to our country.
With great respect,
Ann E. Rondeau, Ed.D.
Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.)
President, Naval Postgraduate School