Soldier First

Recently, David and I were honored to attend the graduation ceremony of our dear friend, Suzanne, from the United States Army Judge Advocate (J.A.G.) training program.  Suzanne is an amazing young woman, about whom we have written in other posts, and whom we have known for her entire life.  She has excelled in everything she has undertaken from elementary school through law school, thus, it came as no surprise to David and me that she would excel as a new Army lawyer.  When speaking with Suzanne before and after her graduation from the J.A.G. training program, she mentioned the U.S. Soldier’s Creed, “Soldiers First.”  Although I do not want to take exception to the creed of our women and men in uniform, I believe that what makes Suzanne so very special (and, most likely, many of her new colleagues in our military) is that her philosophy has always been, “human being first, everything else second.”  Therefore, in her relatively short life, Suzanne has conducted herself with kindness, dignity, self respect, and respect for others; in short, she has recognized that everyone has an important contribution to the world in which we live.  Suzanne will excel in her duties as an attorney in our United States Army, not because she will be a great soldier, a great officer, and a great attorney, but because she is a great person.  HOOAH!

Melissa suggested that I read the Soldier’s Creed prior to responding to her comments about Suzanne, and I will add that I agree that Suzanne’s humanity is one of her many assets. But, as I read the Creed, I realized that it is very fitting for Suzanne, of course now, but parts of it have been true for as long as I remember. First, to share the Soldier’s Creed, it reads:

I am an American Soldier.
I am a warrior and a member of a team.*
I serve the people of the United States, and live the Army Values.
I will always place the mission first.*
I will never accept defeat.*
I will never quit.*
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills.
I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.*
I am an expert and I am a professional.*
I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy, the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.
I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.
I am an American Soldier.

In conversations with Suzanne since she joined the Army, it is clear she has taken these words to heart. She has indicated her willingness to “go wherever the Army needs me” and realizes that she’s a Soldier first – lawyer second. She engaged in extensive physical training prior to boot camp such that she excelled in those aspects of her military training. If you noticed the “*”s in the Creed, the Army didn’t put them there; I did. I did because I thought these items were some which she may have initially learned from being on the Magnus team. I’m sure these things have been reinforced and expanded in her mind, but she was taught about the importance of being on a team when working with us on mock jury research – she was a part of team and she played her role on the team well. She always had a commitment to getting the mission/job done, regardless of the obstacles that are sometimes thrown at us on research days. She learned the importance of ensuring our equipment was maintained and ready to “deploy” and she conducted herself with professionalism and maturity, way beyond her years. I could probably expand on these items further in the non military context, but I will stick with these examples and report how proud I am that she has embodied this Creed and taken the step of sharing her skills and self for the benefit of the Army, and the USA! Go Army, Go Lt. Suzanne!

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