Barbara Jordan: Speaking the Truth with Eloquent Thunder

By Max Sherman | Go to book overview

BARBARA JORDAN'S THAYER AWARD ACCEPTANCE

To be chosen to receive the Sylvanus Thayer award is a personal tribute of high and unmatched quality. This single event places me among a group of distinguished Americans you believe best embodies the core principles of West Point. Duty. Honor. Country. My unequivocal delight is enhanced by your presence. Your decision to attend this institution was not a trivial one. You had to discard unnecessary irrelevancies and distracting engagements and commit yourselves to a path designed to add distinction to your country.

I believe I am looking at an audience that includes future Thayer Award winners. By your desire to come to this place, by your admittance through a rigorous screening process, and by your work while here, you have already shown that you are the resource from which leaders will emerge.

I know it must be difficult being a cadet. And I know as you sit here, with part of your attention focused on me and another part focused on the obligations of your cadet life, you are perhaps thinking that I am guilty of great understatement. Of course it is difficult being a cadet!

I know through conversations with some of your predecessors and through anecdotes that filter through the press and other media—some true, some perhaps exaggerated—that yours is an education unlike any other. Demands are placed on you that cause shudders in most of your peers around the nation. It is difficult, as you try to live up to your own standards and those of the school, to consider the very important philosophical context of a West Point education.

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