Gen. Martin E. Dempsey Urges Norwich Grads to Live ‘Uncommon Lives’

May 13, 2012

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, today urged Norwich University graduates to live “uncommon lives” of leadership based on time-honored virtues.

Norwich, located in the town of Northfield, Vt., is the oldest of six senior military colleges and is considered the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.

“Norwich has started you on an uncommon road of selflessness and courage, to go out and contribute and serve our nation,” Dempsey said in prepared remarks. “Realize it or not, you have internalized the Norwich virtues of courage, honesty, temperance and wisdom -- guideposts that will serve you as you lead our nation’s future.”

Norwich is a private university whose student body features a Corps of Cadets as well as traditional civilian students. Some of this year’s graduates are joining the U.S. military as commissioned officers. Others will go on to eventually take leadership roles in business, industry, politics, government, and other fields of endeavor.

The experiences the university provides will serve all of the graduates in good stead, because leadership is important in all aspects of life, Dempsey said.

Norwich University dates from 1819 and it boasts a long list of famous leaders as graduates, from Admiral of the Navy George Dewey of Spanish-American War fame to retired Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, who had served as the Army chief of staff in the early 1990s and now serves as president and chief operating officer of the Association of the United States Army headquartered in Arlington, Va.

Dempsey said the university “would be little more than a beautiful monument to the past glory of American leaders if not for you, its next generation of leaders.”

Now it is up to the graduates to make the most of their experiences at Norwich -- and the ones they will have in the future -- to make a difference and have an impact, he said.

Living an uncommon life means achieving “the outcome that is necessary in whatever particular line of work you choose.” Dempsey said.

Dempsey also spoke about trust. “It doesn’t get any more fundamental than trust,” he said. “It’s one of the pillars of the strength of our nation. At every level, trust wins, and it starts with trust in yourself.”

There’s also “a broader trust between the citizen and the nation, and nation-to-nation with our allies and partners, as well,” Dempsey said, noting that the pursuit of U.S. security interests today involves more than just military power.

“Our security commitments cut across the lines of diplomacy, intelligence, economics, and social progress,” he said. “It demands the support of an array of professions and skills as well as alliances, international systems and volunteer organizations. And it requires the best from each of us and all of us.”

In today’s changing world, the challenge for Americans involves “doing what’s right for ourselves, our family, our nation, and the global community,” Dempsey said.

“We can only make it work,” he added, “if we consistently and persistently leverage every opportunity to build confidence in each other, building trust.”

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