Honor, Courage, and Commitment

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.Corpsvalues

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?

3 Responses to “Honor, Courage, and Commitment”

  1. I think you are spot on with
    “The same–but instilled and lived by some different means?”
    I think we have been blind to the importance of “honor, courage and commitment” perhaps becuase of the bad associations many educators and most especially the academics have with “the military.” It might have made some sense back in Vietnam days. It is nonsense today.
    I think it persists as part of the culture wars that have been fanned by politicians eager to find an easy way to get elected.
    At any rate, in my experience the buring question for every young person is exactly about finding the values that will let them lead a meaningful life. Much of the educational conversation about curriculum, technologies and standards and most especially about “getting a good job,” leave them cold and thus bored.
    Honor – as in respecting yourself and every human being on the planet.
    Courage – as in not being paralyzed or driven into stupid decisions by fear
    Commitment – as in overcoming any obstacle that stands between ourselves and our dreams
    Seems exactly what will get kids “engaged.” The real challenge is can teachers have the honor, courage and commitment to lead their journey.

  2. Godspeed to your son, Jim. I’m thinking of him and of you.

  3. Very nice interesting and informative article. Thanks for sharing it.

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