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Op-Ed: Save our Patriotic Mission of “Duty, Honor and Country”

By Peter Clines


Patriotism is not just declining in this country; it is in free-fall.


The latest example of this crisis involves the United States Military Academy, which should be the country’s impregnable stronghold of patriotism. Believe it or not, as of this month, it is no longer the mission of the Academy to instill the patriotic values of “duty, honor, country” in the Army’s officer corps.


Military bureaucrats have officially decided to expunge those ringing words from the Academy's mission statement and replace them with bland reference to "Army values" –a phrase that sounds that sounds less like the creed of a gallant soldiery and more like a cliche from a mind-numbing employee handbook.


Eliminating devotion to “country” from the Academy’s missionis especially troubling as it is a direct assault on the essential military virtue of patriotism.. Our country is our “patria”, the very root of patriotism.


“Duty, honor, country” captures the timeless core of America’s martial spirit. No less a figure that the great General Douglas MacArthur, in a speech to the West Point cadet corps, exhorted young soldiers to live by that motto: “They are your rallying points," he told them, "to build courage when courage seems to fail, to regain faith when there seems to be so little cause for faith, to create hope when hope becomes forlorn."


MacArthur reminded the cadets that our national survival depended on their dedication to those words: “Yours is… the sure knowledge that in war there is no substitute for victory, that if you lose, the Nation will be destroyed, that the very obsession of your public service must be Duty, Honor, Country.”


President Ronald Reagan later lauded the General’s “unforgettable speech”which “reminded those young soldiers that duty, honor, country were three hallowed words that reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, and what you will be”. Those words, in short, are irreplaceable.


Why then has today’s military officialdom decided not only to replace these words but to replace them with meaningless jargon reminiscent of an HR policy memo?


That should set off loud alarm bells. HR departments have been the gateway for leftist political and cultural indoctrination throughout government and industry.


The mealy-mouthed term “Army values” is a deliberately vacuous phrase which can mean whatever the military bureaucracy wants it to mean. Given recent history, I believe “Army values” is certain to be interpreted as code for “woke” social values to be imposed on cadets as a condition of serving and protecting their country.


The mission of our Army is not to advance anyone’s domestic socio-political agenda. It is to protect our constitutional republic by striking mortal terror into our country’s enemies, so they are afraid to attack our territory or our vital national interests. If the Army loses sight of that mission and becomes merely another institutional domino falling to the left’s campaign of social conquest, we are all living on borrowed time.


Removing “country” from the mission statement is particularly inexplicable – that is, until you recall that Mr. Biden is our Commander-in-Chief. Deleting “country” is all too consistent with the contemptuous attitude of the Biden administration to the most fundamental attribute of our country’s sovereignty – our border.


Why have an officer corps dedicated to making the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country’s homeland if the President has implicitly repudiated the very concept of an inviolable national border? 


Douglas MacArthur was a magnificent American patriot and military leader. The individuals who have neutered the Military Academy’s mission statement are not.




Peter Clines served as a Deputy Nassau County Attorney under former Nassau County Executive (now US Congressman) Thomas Suozzi; and for 12 years as Counsel to the Democratic Minority in the Nassau County Legislature.


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