As my wife and I sat in the Marine Corps office last Friday, watching our son choose the path that would define his life for the next eight years, I thought of many things, but the one that comes to mind this morning was the poster that identified the three core values by which Marines are expected to live their lives: Honor, Courage, and Commitment.
The Marine Corps says the following of these values:
The Marine Corps strives to
produce not only the best warriors, but also the best people—men and
women who live by the Core Values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment.
Marines act responsibly in a mature and dependable manner. They are
held to the highest standard of ethical and moral behavior. In the
Marines, honesty, honor, and respect for oneself and others is built
into our very foundation.
Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the ability to face fear
and overcome it. It is the mental, moral, and physical strength that is
ingrained in Marines. It carries them through every challenge, and aids
them in facing the unknown.
Commitment is what compels Marines to serve our country and the
Corps. It is what drives them to face every mission head-on, and win
our nation's battles.
While my life was changing, I found that pesky teacher brain intruding–does it ever rest?–to ask whether and how these values applied to our work. While we are certainly not in the business of "creating the best warriors," we are, I think, engaged in the work of creating what we hope will be the best citizens and people, all of whom, we hope, will choose to live their lives by some similar code.
The question is, however, what are our core values? If we had a poster for our profession–one featuring a pen instead of a sword, of course–what would those three words be? The same–but instilled and lived by some different means? And would those words we chose speak to our students as these three words do to the Marine recruits who have responded in such numbers that the Marines met their recruitment goals two years ahead of schedule?