". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


In West Point Motto Controversy, Ret. Army Gen. Says, ‘Duty, Honor, Country’ Are ‘Irreplaceable’

March 18, 2024

For at least two years in a row, the Army has fallen significantly short of their recruitment goals. As a result, Americans have watched the military drop standards in an attempt to increase recruitment — with little success. However, several experts have pointed out that the military’s noticeable emphasis on the “woke agenda” could explain much of the downfall in recent years.

Considering this leftward shift, it’s unsurprising that West Point’s recent announcement that it has modified the academy’s mission statement has been met with backlash.

In his 1962 farewell speech, Army General Douglas MacArthur told cadets, “Duty. Honor. Country. Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be.” And since 1998, “duty, honor, and country” have been a part of West Point’s mission statement. But last Monday, West Point announced that they would be changing “Duty. Honor. Country.” to “Army Values” — a new title described by some as a “bland” substitution.

On Friday’s episode of “Washington Watch,” guest host and former Congressman Jody Hice said “that little change … makes a huge difference.” And he posed the question: “Does this represent yet another woke turn in our nation’s military?”

Joining the discussion was retired Lieutenant General William Caldwell, also the president of Georgia Military College, who expressed his concern with the change. “For us [who] are academy grads, when we heard there was a change being made, we were trying to understand: … Why? What was wrong with our current mission statement? What was not being produced that needed to be produced that required us to take the three watchwords that have been there as a part of our crest and our mission statement since 1998?”

The Army Values, as written on the service branch’s website, are loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. “They’re seven great words,” Caldwell said, “but the three words captured with ‘duty, honor, country’ are just irreplaceable.” And pointing to MacArthur’s 1962 speech, Caldwell summarized the famous general’s talking points surrounding those three words as “to build courage when courage seems to fail, to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith, and to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.”

And so, when it comes to West Point’s change, he emphasized, “They’re not removing that. But I think a lot of us thought that they had a very applicable place in the mission statement when it was put there in 1998. And we’re just trying to understand why … we needed to remove them.”

Hice posed the question, “[I]f these words are no longer going to be part of the mission statement, is this a first step in ignoring these words altogether?”

Caldwell conveyed he is concerned about that but stated, “I’d like to have the faith and trust in our leadership to do the right thing.” However, he continued, “It’s just nothing had been communicated to anybody that that current mission statement of living the values of ‘duty and honor and country’ were not producing the leaders we needed today for our army and for our nation.”

Additionally, Hice noted that, after reading the statement, it’s “alarming that it seems the commitment is to the Army values, and to the Army itself.” He explained that it’s “concerning in the political climate in which we’re living today that the commitment is to the Army rather than our Constitution and the freedoms that we have” as well as “defending those freedoms.”

In response, Caldwell emphasized that those constitutional values are important, which is why they are “embedded” in the Georgia Military College mission statement. He added, the “mission statement drives everything you do. When in doubt … you go to your mission.”

“There are values that transcend even beyond the Army,” he pointed out. “They’re national values [that] we as a nation need to embrace.

Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.