West Point Changes Mission Statement, Removing Values ‘Duty, Honor, Country’ In a move sure to worry many that the venerable two-century-old West Point is going woke, Superintendent Lt. Gen. Steve Gilland announced Monday a change in the institution’s mission statement. The phrase “duty, honor, country” is out — exchanged for the more amorphous “Army values.” The United States Military Academy’s previous mission statement was: “To educate, train and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the nation as an officer in the United States Army.” The new mission statement, according to a news release from the academy, is: “To build, educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets to be commissioned leaders of character committed to the Army Values and ready for a lifetime of professional excellence and service to the Army and Nation.” In a message addressed to “West Point Teammates,” Gilland addressed the reason for the change. “Duty, Honor, Country is foundational to the United States Military Academy’s culture and will always remain our motto,” he wrote. “It defines who we are as an institution and as graduates of West Point.” “These three hallowed words are the hallmark of the cadet experience and bind the Long Gray Line together across our great history.” BREAKING 🚨: West Point does away with “Duty, Honor, Country” in its mission statement and instead replaces it with “Army Values”. pic.twitter.com/wM3txaColR — Spence Rogers (@SpenceRogers) March 12, 2024 However, Gilland wrote, “Our responsibility to produce leaders to fight and win our nation’s wars requires us to assess ourselves regularly.” Gilland went on to recount that the academy had engaged in an 18-month review of its purpose and strategy, working with West Point leaders and stakeholders. It then recommended the mission statement change to the Army’s top leadership. He noted that both Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Randy George approved the change. Gilland argued that Army values “include Duty and Honor and Country.” He pointed out that the academy’s mission statement has changed nine times in the last century, and that Duty, Honor, Country was first added in 1998. He concluded saying the school’s “absolute focus” remains developing leaders of character for the Army. As a 1989 graduate of West Point, I can confirm the mission statement did not include “Duty, Honor, Country” while I was there, and it certainly didn’t change the value I place on those words. My time at the academy happened to fall on the 25th anniversary of Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s last speech to the Corps of Cadets, titled, “Duty, Honor, Country.” He had been superintendent of the institution for three years after his return to the U.S. from service in World War I and chief of staff of the Army in the 1930s. May 12, 1962 – General Douglas MacArthur delivers his famous Duty, Honor, Country speech as he accepts West Point’s Thayer Award. pic.twitter.com/Vt7QAIRssQ — MacArthur Memorial (@MacArthur1880) May 12, 2022 MacArthur went on to iconic World War II status, fulfilling his famous pledge, “I shall return,” to the Philippines, given in the early dark days of the conflict when Japanese forces took the Pacific country. 75 years ago today, during World War II, Gen. Douglas MacArthur stepped ashore at Leyte in the Philippines, 2 1/2 years after saying, “I shall return.” | Photo via U.S. Army pic.twitter.com/DE4WrzqRkJ — AP Images (@AP_Images) October 20, 2019 At the end of the war, MacArthur was named supreme allied commander, overseeing the surrender of Japan in Tokyo Harbor and then the military occupation of the nation, which he helped shepherd to a constitutional democracy. So the retired five-star general brought all this history and more when he spoke to West Point’s cadets in May 1962 for the last time, exhorting them to live up to the academy’s motto: Duty, Honor, Country. On the speech’s 25th anniversary in 1987, the entire Corps of Cadets, 4,000-strong, assembled in West Point’s Eisenhower Hall to watch a movie of MacArthur’s speech put to scenes from his legendary life. MacArthur died in 1980. To my amazement, an announcement came over the public address system shortly before the movie began: “All rise as Mrs. General Douglas MacArthur enters the room.” His wife Jean MacArthur, 88 at the time, who served right alongside him in the Philippines in World War II, joined us! She would live to be 101, dying in January 2000. Also on post in 1987 were members of the faculty who had been cadets when MacArthur delivered the speech. They later told me you could have heard a pin drop when the general spoke, because the audience was in such rapt attention. As a new cadet during basic training at the academy, you had to memorize a portion of the speech, which goes, “Duty, Honor, Country: Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying points: to build courage when courage seems to fail; to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith; to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.” Later in the speech the general said: “Duty, Honor, Country. The code which those words perpetuate embraces the highest moral laws and will stand the test of any ethics or philosophies ever promulgated for the uplift of mankind. Its requirements are for the things that are right, and its restraints are from the things that are wrong. “The soldier, above all other men, is required to practice the greatest act of religious training — sacrifice. “In battle and in the face of danger and death, he discloses those divine attributes which his Maker gave when he created man in his own image. No physical courage and no brute instinct can take the place of the Divine help which alone can sustain him.” The general closed by telling the cadets, “In the evening of my memory, always I come back to West Point. Always there echoes and re-echoes: Duty, Honor, Country.” Hopefully, the same will be true for today’s West Point cadets, even with “Duty, Honor, Country” no longer in the mission statement. Truth and Accuracy We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

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