'Leaders of character' - Military honored at BYU's annual Presidential Review
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Amid rain and cooler temperatures, patriotic anthems welcomed students and community members to the BYU campus as cadets assembled for the annual Brigham Young University ROTC Presidential Review and Veteran's Day Commemoration on Nov. 9.
The event is held each year to show respect for soldiers past and present who have dedicated their lives to preserving the freedoms of the United States of America. Each year an award is given — either the Patriot's Award or the Leadership Excellence Award — to someone who represents the values and leadership shown by Captain Moroni. This year's Leadership Excellence Award was given to President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency.
"The criteria for the award includes those who have demonstrated throughout their life dedication to the values of duty, honor, country, God and family," Lieutenant Colonel Dewey Boberg said.
Of President Uchtdorf, he said, "He has a great military background — both in the German and in the U.S. Air Force — to go with his great service to the Church and to his country and all of us now."
In his remarks, President Uchtdorf honored military leaders like Captain Moroni in the Book of Mormon who demonstrated duty and honor in serving family, country and God.
President Uchtdorf knows what it is like to have served in the armed forces.
"I served six years in the military," said President Uchtdorf. "I was trained well in many forms of combat, survival and leadership. But only after having actually served as a soldier during the Cold War in Europe did I realize that our role as a well-trained and highly motivated military force was to keep and bring peace to a troubled world. Bringing and keeping peace is a significant part of the healer's art."
Drawing from the words of General Douglas MacArthur, President Uchtdorf said: " 'The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.' … Many nations around the world look to you, with the hope that you will help them find and keep the peace. The American people have great confidence in you, that you will 'do the right thing, even in the face of danger; to keep the Nation safe, even in times of struggle; and win the Nation's wars, even against a most elusive foe' (General Norton A. Schwartz).
"As I have traveled throughout the world, I have recognized that all people, regardless of culture, language or religion, desire prosperity, happiness and peace," President Uchtdorf said. "These are worldwide desires. We know there are many things happening in this world that do not reflect these wholesome desires. Some of you may expect to be deployed to places where you will see the stark difference between war and peace. I respect and honor each of you for your commitment to serve your country, to serve your people and to serve God."
It is that service that makes life satisfying and worthwhile, President Uchtdorf said. The commitment to service — whether in wartime or peace — is a hallmark of an officer of the U.S. armed forces.
"The primary cause of all U.S. military academies and ROTC programs is to develop leaders of character. They are to educate, train and inspire men and women to become officers of character motivated to lead the armed forces in service to their nation."
To become leaders of character, one has to honor and practice the core values of integrity first, service before self and excellence in all one does — even and especially in times of loneliness and temptation, he noted.
"When it comes to these values, don't ever make an exception," President Uchtdorf counseled. "Don't rationalize away your core values. Always trust in God."
BYU's Presidential Review takes place annually on the Friday closest to Veteran's Day, Nov. 11, in an effort to show respect for soldiers past and present who have dedicated their lives to serving their country.
"It is a great event and great opportunity to recognize the service of others, but also the men and women that have served throughout the years," Lt. Col. Boberg said.
Prior to the formation on the campus for the Presidential Review, BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson joined President Uchtdorf and leaders from the BYU Army and Air Force ROTC programs to conduct a private wreath-laying ceremony in honor of BYU students who have given their lives in defense of their country.
Afterward, cadets lined up for a flag ceremony in which "Taps" was played before they marched to Brigham Square, located at the center of campus, for the Presidential Review.