Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage.
These Army core values are ingrained into every soldier's mind during their first few weeks of Basic Combat Training (BCT). When put together these values form the acronym LDRSHIP, the foundational principles for each soldiers to live by.
I served ten years in the U.S. Army under the umbrella of the United States Army Special Operations Command. As a non-commissioned officer (NCO) and Communications Team Chief, it was my responsibility to not only lead young men and women into “combat” zones, but to also ensure communication assets for the war-fighter were available at all times. I’ve been out of the army for close to 8 years now, but to this day I still hold these values close to my heart. Each of these values laid the groundwork for the Husband, Father, and Friend I am today.
1. Loyalty – “Bear true faith and allegiance to the US Constitution, the Army, your unit, and other soldiers.”
I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty loyal guy, a great team player; that “never quit on you” attitude. However, the first few weeks of basic training had me second guessing myself. I was often on the wrong side of an a**-chewing at someone else’s mistake. Mass punishment and group smoke sessions (push-ups, flutter kicks, and overhead arm claps performed until exhaustion) were the Drill Sergeant’s method for correcting behavior and producing textbook soldiers.
I hated being punished for other people’s mistakes, I would try to complete any given task on my own, only to fail and find myself and my platoon doing push-ups until the humidity inside would rise enough to cause condensation, known as making the walls sweat . I quickly found out the Army was a team game, and instead of finger-pointing and calling my fellow soldiers out, my platoon started to work together. Loose bunk, I’ll tighten it up for you. Can’t figure out how to get that extra shine on your boots, I got you covered. You left your locker unsecured, I’ll put a lock on it for you.
This lesson later transitioned into my ability to trust others. Not just when times were easy, but when they were the most difficult. During the times when I think no one has my back, times when I think I am on my own, times where I think I can only trust myself, I am reminded of my time at Fort Knox, Kentucky, with the 1st platoon Warlords.
This value has also proven important as I introduce my son to the Father. I remind him that while I may (will) fail him at some point, his Father in heaven will be with him always.
“and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20
2. Duty – “Fulfill your obligations.”
One morning as I sat eating breakfast, drinking coffee, I placed my grandfather’s favorite mug a little too close to the edge of the table. You can guess what happened next. The shattering of the ceramic mug hitting the tile floor echoed across the house. My grandfather came walking in and asked me what had happened? I looked up and said “Well...The cup broke.” He shook his head and responded back “Michael, when you start saying I broke the cup, instead of the cup broke, I’ll know that you are a man.”
This made no sense whatsoever at the time, but as I started my career as a soldier this statement came to define my core belief in accepting personal responsibility in everything I did, including my mistakes.
Taking personal responsibility or ownership of your mistakes isn’t always the easiest thing to do, and as I neared the end of my enlistment, this motto morphed from an anthem of taking personal responsibility into assigning blame and fault to others.
I have matured and grown since these years and I still have to constantly remind myself (through prayer and scripture) that modeling the behavior of a servant’s heart for my sons is far greater an example of duty than assigning fault and blame.
“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” - Acts 20:35 ESV
Loyalty and Duty, the first two Army values are still some of my favorites. Reflecting back on these ideas and the opportunity to share this with my friends and family has been a joy. So thank you for taking the time to read this. Please take time to ‘like’ and comment below. I would love to have conversations about your thoughts and the values you hold true to your heart.
I look forward to sharing the rest of my blog on the remaining Army values and pray you walk away with something.
-Build up, Become Strong-