West Point Commandant lectures on ethics and values in leadership
On February 10, Norwich University welcomed Brigadier General Leo A. Brooks, Jr., the Commandant of the US Corps of Cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point, to speak about ethics and values in leadership. From the stage in Plumley Armory, Brooks challenged both Corps and Civilian students alike to choose the hard right over the easy wrong.
"The decisions you make today, as a leader, will follow you for the rest of your life," he said. "You are the standard by which [those under your command] will determine what is acceptable and what is not acceptable."
In his interactive presentation, which included a quote from Sun Tzu and a film clip from the movie "Gladiator," the brigadier general addressed the importance of upholding one's responsibility as citizens and soldiers of this country.
"You are the people that the American people entrust to lead," the 1979 West Point graduate said. "America is calling on you and your brothers and sisters at other institutions around the world, to lead its sons and daughters to ensure that the American way of life remains as it is today, a place where you have choice, a place where you have freedom, a place where you can participate in your government, a place where you can worship where you choose."
Citing events that occurred during his own 25-year career, Brooks illustrated the kinds of things that can happen when leaders do not live by a sound moral code.
"Our Army, our Navy, our Air Force, our Marines, are only as good as the leaders who lead," Brooks said. "Have the test of fortitude to fight whatever adversity you are facing to get the job done, but do it while living the values that the institution holds for itself, values which are higher, in many respects, than those of the general society in which we live."
Brooks ended his lecture by encouraging his young audience to strive for excellence regardless of where their future might take them. "America is counting on each and every one of you, regardless of what you do, where you go, what branch of service, whether you serve or not. You've been given this wonderful opportunity to serve this great nation. Strive for excellence in all that you do."
General Brooks, who was brought to Norwich as part of the University's Leadership Speakers series, is the nephew of Norwich University Trustee Francis K. Brooks '67, a legislator from Montpelier, and the brother of Brigadier General Vincent Brooks, the primary spokesman for the military during the recent war in Iraq.
by Diana Weggler