Duty, honor, sacrifice and a deep sense of personal integrity. This is a short list of values the U.S. military instills in the nation’s soldiers.
Today, values such as these may seem chivalrous and nostalgic, and are no longer expected day-to-day behavior in society. However, in the military tradition, soldiers are taught to display values such as these in all aspects of their lives.
Veteran and history professor Floyd Churchill suggests people should extend their gratitude to these admirable men and women who dedicate themselves to a cause greater than themselves.
Churchill describes this change in America’s value system as a cultural shift beginning with The Greatest Generation: those who fought through World War I, World War II and the Great Depression.
The generation after, Churchill’s generation, split. Half preserved the values of their parents and the other half influenced the counterculture of the ‘60s.
Today, a high sense of individualism has replaced the ideals of The Greatest Generation.
As for Churchill, he was humbly set with the values of this generation and planned to serve his country in the manner that was expected of him.
“Values like duty, honor and country were reinforced and accelerated in the service,” Churchill said.
Thirty years of military service engrained Churchill with a high sense of moral commitment—a philosophy he passes on to his Pierce College Puyallup students.
“I teach them how to think, not what to think,” Churchill said.
Reflected in his teaching, his experience allows him to offer a perspective that sometimes textbook material can’t cover as well as a first-hand account or explanation could. Even his style of teaching incorporates a strict system of values so students are encouraged to grow as responsible and discerning citizens.
“I’d like my students to be next managers of the Lowe’s, rather than next one out of the door,” Churchill said.
His emphasis on the moral growth of students stems from lessons learned throughout his career in the military. Churchill’s thinking mirrors the simple but modest motivation shared by soldiers across every generation who choose to serve their country out of a sense of duty and respect.
“I served my country as best as I knew how. I did what was expected of me in serving my country,” said Churchill, who explained today’s soldiers today are “absolutely superb soldiers.”
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