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A&M's 125th Anniversary

Corps is dedicated to training tomorrow's leaders

Maj. Gen. M.T. 'Ted' Hopgood

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

––


Eagle file photo/Butch Ireland

Members of the Corps of Cadets march across O.R. Simpson Drill Field last month as part of their annual review.

Thomas Paine penned these lines in the winter of 1776, as Americans struggled to gain their freedom in the Revolutionary War. His words are no less relevant today as we reflect on the recent terrorist attacks against America and how they will affect its future.

In 1776, America needed soldiers, volunteers who would come to the service of their fledgling nation. Today, America needs leaders in all walks of life to chart the course the nation will take into the future; leaders to ably serve their professions and their communities.

Leadership and character development are what Texas A&M University’s Corps of Cadets is all about. Simply put, our mission is to train leaders of character and competence for service to the state and nation. We’ve been doing that successfully for 125 years.

When people see an Aggie cadet, they think of the military. That’s only natural. Our 2,000 cadets are the largest uniformed body of students outside the U.S. service academies and we commission more military officers than any other school except those academies.

We’re justly proud of our cadets’ military accomplishments. Aggies have fought in all of America’s conflicts since the Spanish-American War. Seven former cadets have received the Medal of Honor and 225 have become generals or admirals.

But that’s only part of the story. Many people are surprised to learn that only about 30 percent of our graduating cadets receive commissions as officers. The vast majority enters the mainstream civilian workforce in professions of their own choosing. Membership in the Corps itself carries no military obligation.

The land-grant college system that gave rise to Texas A&M mandated military training as well as academic education. The university has remained true to its land-grant roots, maintaining its cadet corps intact and encouraging its growth. Today, we use the framework of a military organization to teach all our cadets leadership skills that complement the academic education they receive here.

I believe the Corps of Cadets offers an outstanding opportunity for any young man or woman who wants more from college than just a degree. When they join our Corps, they’re signing up for a four-year leadership laboratory that will equip them to succeed on the battlefield or in the boardroom.

Cadets first learn “followership,” time management, and self-discipline through a rigorous and demanding freshman year. Living in cadet units, they learn to work as a team to achieve stated goals and objectives. Aggie cadets are required to adhere to a strict code of honor and a “no excuses” ethic of personal accountability.

As they progress through the leadership ranks, cadets become responsible for leading the efforts of increasingly larger groups of people and managing ever-more complex organizations or programs. All cadets learn to put mission accomplishment and the welfare of subordinates ahead of themselves. Although they work within a hierarchical structure, cadets also are taught to think critically, eschew “group-think,” and to lead from out in front.

They learn the value of service through regular support of university events, participation in campuswide student organizations and Corps community service projects. The camaraderie and esprit developed through the Corps experience provide cadets with an appreciation for the values of loyalty to one’s organization and fellowship with one’s co-workers.

Cadets leave the Corps accustomed to hard work and sacrifice, motivated for a lifetime of service in their chosen field, and prepared to take charge when called.

The Corps experience is a proven system that’s prepared countless young men and women to lead America in peace or war. It’s a system employers can count on to provide them a disciplined young person ready to take the initiative and help move the organization forward. So whether you need a design team leader or a fire team leader, there’s an Aggie cadet who fits the bill.

When Thomas Paine issued the call to serve in 1776, he knew the nation needed more than soldiers, it needed leaders. We weren’t around for the revolution, but the Corps of Cadets has been answering Tom Paine’s call since Texas A&M opened its doors in 1876. We’ll keep on answering it as long as the nation needs leaders and as long as there are Aggies willing to serve.

And that should be just about forever.

• Maj. Gen. M.T. “Ted” Hopgood Jr. is the commandant of the Corps of Cadets.

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