Kashmeri: Conduct Befitting

Jan 17, 2018

The President is the country’s Commander-in-chief – and as such, has a responsibility to ensure that his – or her - behavior and actions are always a model of inspiration for the most professional and probably the most racially diverse military in the world.

A recent image posted on Facebook by a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, shows a close-up of a proud student, dressed up for graduation ceremonies at the Academy, in his West Point grey, with gleaming rows of brass buttons and a white sash, as he’s about to be commissioned an officer in the United States Army.

His profound feelings are clear to see as he stands proudly in the sun with tears running down his cheeks. “I made it,” he seems to be saying. “Thank you Lord, I made it.”

The officer who posted the picture, himself a West Point graduate, added this preface:
“This cadet was born in Haiti, enlisted in the Army, gained his citizenship, and now is a West Point graduate and officer. Don't ever tell me the American Dream is dead."

To a soldier in the U.S. military, the United States President stands at the pinnacle of his or her chain of command. A soldier will enter the valley of death if so commanded by the President. That’s the promise a soldier makes when she or he raises a hand and swears to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.

The most recent uproar over alleged racially offensive remarks in the White House about immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and Africa, threaten to fray the bonds that tie the entire force to its commander in chief. While we parse meaning and intent, the words themselves do serious damage to the morale of the force and to the image of the President as Commander in Chief.

To my way of thinking, the Facebook picture is a shot across the bow that the President should heed. Breaking his bond with the United States military would damage both the country and his Presidency. Words that are carelessly chosen and thoughtlessly spoken have the power to do just that.