West Point Cadets: Honor, Leadership, America

April 22, 2016 Updated: April 23, 2016

West Point, formally known as the United States Military Academy (USMA) has been developing, motivating, and inspiring leaders of character for America for over 200 years.

The USMA is admired internationally for its academic, military, patriotic, and fitness programs. These are all built on the pillars of character, ethics, integrity, and leadership.

The West Point Mission is “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.”

Attendees at the National Conference on Ethics in America at West Point walking to conference presentations on Oct. 20, 2008. (Vincent J. Bove)
Attendees at the National Conference on Ethics in America at West Point walking to conference presentations on Oct. 20, 2008. (Vincent J. Bove)

West Point Cadets: A Day to Remember

On Thursday, April 14, I delivered the opening presentation for the Jersey City Police Department (JCPD) for West Point Cadets visiting Jersey City.

Their visit honored the principles of community policing, patriotism, and leadership through a unique program titled “Winning the Peace.” This program is a collaboration of the USMA, JCPD, government leaders, faith-based communities, and corporate partners.

The initiative started twelve years ago and has included presentations as well as cadet visits to historic landmarks, Egyptian churches, various mosques and Islamic centers, Jewish synagogues, Mormon communities, and corporate facilities.

During my presentation titled “West Point Cadets: Honor, Leadership, America,” I encouraged the cadets to develop deep rooted values of character, ethics, and leadership.

This presentation honestly assessed critical issues facing America today and emphasized that ethical principles inspired by our Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the West Point legacy are principles needed to transform the nation.

My agenda used a metaphor of a catastrophic head on collision with two trains traveling at high speed. I used this image with accompanying slides to illuminate America’s crisis of character and culture of violence in America society.

West Point Cadets during change of class on April 3, 2006. (Vincent J. Bove)
West Point Cadets during change of class on April 3, 2006. (Vincent J. Bove)

America’s shattered communities, demonstrated through deteriorated families, substance abuse, and the gang culture, resulting in violence, prison, and death, were also depicted with my slide presentation.

After honestly addressing these issues, solutions were presented that included cultivating altruism, visionary leadership principles, a call to action, and the importance of always honoring America’s military sacrifices.

The visionary leadership portion of my presentation included these principles:

  • Leadership must be grounded in moral self-confidence developed by understanding through study, hard work, and education
  • Leadership must accept the diversity and talents of the team and forge partnerships, cohesion, and significance to a cause
  • Leadership is aware of the efficacy of truth and the destructiveness of dishonesty
  • Leadership opposes the immorality of injustice
  • Leadership understands that there is no persuasion without credibility
  • Leadership responds to the needs of the community with humility, appreciation, and selflessness
  • Leadership overcomes every hardship, handicap, and challenge to achieve its goals

After my presentation, the JCPD escorted all attendees into the heart of America history with a tour of Ellis Island and then Empty Sky, the New Jersey 9/11 Memorial in Liberty State Park, Jersey City.

West Point Honor Code monument at the USMA campus. (Vincent J. Bove)
West Point Honor Code monument at the USMA campus. (Vincent J. Bove)

West Point: A History of Character Initiatives

This “Winning the Peace” program complemented 10 years of various initiatives I have had with the USMA.

These included three years of participation as a speaker, mentor, and senior leader for the National Conference on Ethics in America at the USMA.

Other initiatives included my speaking engagements with Lt. General Robert L. Caslen Jr., superintendent of the USMA. These involved our presentations for an FBI management retreat as well as for “The Inaugural New Jersey Conference: Character, Ethics, Leadership.” This was a filled to capacity conference for over 250 law enforcement officials hosted by The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey on May 12, 2014.

Both these events encouraged ethical leadership for FBI management and law enforcement as highlighted by these principles highlighted by Lt. General Caslen:

  • Honor—adherence to the highest standards of integrity
  • Respect—treating people with dignity
  • Servant Leadership—putting others before ourselves
  • Integrity—doing what is morally and ethically right even when no one is watching

Final Reflections

A day with the West Point Cadets was truly inspirational as these outstanding young men and women represent America’s ethical values. Their dedication to character, visionary leadership, and patriotism makes one proud of America and gives great hope for our future.

The collaborative leadership of the USMA, JPCD, government leaders, faith-based communities, and private enterprises made the event an outstanding success.

America’s future is bright, represented by the ethical principles of the USMA, and inspiring character in their cadets, shining stars for the U.S. Army and our nation’s reawakening.

Vincent J. Bove
Vincent J. Bove

Vincent J. Bove, CPP, is a national speaker and author on issues critical to America. Bove is a recipient of the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for combating crime and violence and is a former confidant of the New York Yankees. His newest book is “Listen To Their Cries.” For more information, see www.vincentbove.com

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.