John McCain & the USNA Honor Code

(noon. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Had he lived, today would have been my wonderful Dad’s 80th birthday.  And I am fairly sure he would be facing a dilemma he had never faced before.

My Dad was a very proud graduate of the United States Naval Academy.  As I’ve written before, the physical rigors of the Academy were a huge challenge to him — like me, he was no athlete, and like me, he was a restless, relentless night owl.  He did Walk the Yard on many occasions for being late to formation (often because he had been up late the night before helping his fellow midshipmen with their homework); as my Mom says, it was a good thing he was so smart because he often had little time to study.  (He graduated in the top 10 in his class.)  But he never, ever, either while he was a Midshipman or any time during his service or his life, violated the Academy’s Honor Code.

This is today’s iteration of that Code (which I daresay has not changed a great deal):

Midshipmen are persons of integrity: They stand for that which is right.

They tell the truth and ensure that the full truth is known. They do not lie.

They embrace fairness in all actions. They ensure that work submitted as their own is their own, and that assistance received from any source is authorized and properly documented. They do not cheat.

They respect the property of others and ensure that others are able to benefit from the use of their own property. They do not steal.

Source ~ United States Naval Academy(My emphasis added.)

As the Academy’s website notes:

It is our responsibility to develop a selfless sense of duty that demands excellence both of ourselves and of those with whom we serve. We must honor our loyalties without compromising our ultimate obligation to the truth. Our leadership must set a standard that reflects loyalty to our goals and the courage to stand accountable for all our actions, both those that lead to success and to those that end in failure. We will never settle for achieving merely what is expected of us but will strive for a standard of excellence that reflects the dedication and courage of those who have gone before us. When we attain our goal, we will raise our expectations; when we fall short, we will rise up and try again. In essence, we espouse leadership by example, a leadership that will inspire others to follow wherever we may lead.

Source ~ United States Naval Academy(My emphasis added.)

Throughout his life, my Dad had little patience — and even less respect — for those who behaved dishonorably.  The only offense (besides failing to live up to high academic expectations) for which my brother and I were punished severely was lying.  We learned early on never to do so.

Occasionally, I believe, my Dad was really naïve  (this is another trait, alas, that I sometimes share).  But his (like mine) was a naivete born of faith in his fellow human beings; because he did not behave dishonorably, he found it hard to believe that others could.  

I suppose this explains, somewhat, why he was a loyal Republican — even during the Nixon Administration and later that of Ronald Reagan.  I don’t think he liked (or respected) either of these men very much, but I know he voted for them.  He did like and respect George H.W. Bush; he did not live to vote for his son.

This year, though, I am pretty sure his vote would be for Barack Obama.  

I think my Dad would recognize the great disrespect — disdain even — that John McCain has shown for the honorable tradition of the USNA, and for its principles.  I cannot believe that he would not have been horrified by the sleaze emanating from Sen. McCain’s campaign, by the outright, provable lies Sen. McCain has told not only about his own past and positions, but also about those he has repeated, ad nauseum, about Barack Obama.  McCain Lie Counter

And I am one hundred percent certain that he would have been apopletic by Sen. McCain’s shameless and dangerous choice of the utterly unqualified (as well as uneducated) Sarah Palin as his running mate.  

Our Democratic Party has run and elected honorable graduates of the United States Naval Academy during the past several decades, including:

President James Earl Carter, Jr. (Class of ’46; 59th in his class of 820)

Senator James Webb (Class of ’68; awarded the Navy Cross for heroism)

Rep. Joe Sestak  (PA-07)(Class of ’74; second in his class)

Eric Massa (candidate for NY-29)(Class of ’81) Donate.

John McCain is not honorable.  And this year, I think, for that and other reasons, my Dad, had he lived, would be casting his first vote for the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.

I miss you, Dad, so very much.  I am grateful for the chance to remember you tonight.  

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  1. and bless all of your fellow Midshipmen and Americans who have conducted themselves with honor.

  2. Thank you.

  3. He was in the army in WWII, taken late when a man with one blind eye was considered fit to serve.  He taught me to consider “doing the right thing” it’s own reward.  Apparently that’s not good enough for the Publicans.

  4. …for this touching, integrity-teaching diary.  Blessings to you and your Dad.

  5. to the U.S. Naval Academy.

    Audio Here

    and Text of the speech here.

  6. Joining you thinking of him and the code of honor that guided him during his lifetime.

    Sadly, the graduate of the US Naval Academy that’s now currently running for President, hasn’t been guided by that honor code for a long time, if he ever really was.

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