In front of the flowing fountain at the World War II Memorial, 10 midshipmen of the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps took the commissioning oath of the U.S. Navy.
Graduating seniors from GW, Georgetown and Catholic universities were commissioned early Friday morning as either an ensign in the Navy or second lieutenant in the Marine Corps.
Here’s what the speakers had to say:
1. Agents of change
Following a short invocation, Commander Ross Piper III, commanding officer of GW’s NROTC program, welcomed the graduates and their families to the commissioning ceremony and asked all active duty and reserve service members, and veterans of the armed forces to rise for a round of applause.
Vice Admiral Mary Jackson, Commander of Navy installations, emphasized the graduates’ ability to bring about change and described change as coming from within.
“One person’s understanding of how powerful an agent for change they can be in the world, can change the whole thing,” Jackson said. “That’s a powerful thought.”
2. Leadership and responsibility
Jackson reminded the graduates that as officers, they will soon be entrusted with the care and leadership of future marines. Parents across the nation will say goodbye to their sons and daughters and in as little as eight weeks, they will become a sailor or a marine, she said.
Jackson said the graduates will be entrusted to guide those new recruits and she charged the graduates with the task of honoring the parents of service members by leading and teaching their children in the Navy.
“Parents are entrusting you with their child’s life,” Jackson said. “Give those sailors and marines purpose and help them understand their role in mission accomplishment.”
Jackson also encouraged the graduates to take stock of their own virtues and shortcomings in order to become better leaders.
“I firmly believe we can only succeed in our line of work as brothers and sisters in arms if we own our behavior and our actions and are true to each other,” Jackson. “We cannot do it alone.”
3. ‘You are never alone in our line of work’
As a member of the Navy, there are moments outside of battle which test one’s patience, Jackson said. From cleaning equipment to swabbing the deck, patience and trust will carry the graduates through difficult times, she added.
Jackson said experience is critical to a service member’s success in the field but that experience takes time.
“You will have some tough days and rough seas. Get through those experiences. Get back up, dust yourself off and go back at it,” Jackson reminded the graduates. “You are never alone in our line of work.”
As the graduates raised their right hands in order to take the oath of the U.S. Navy, Commander Piper reminded them that they’re called to serve the Constitution first and foremost.
“The military officer’s oath requires officers to support and uphold the constitution, not the president, not the country, not the flag and not a particular military service,” Piper said. “It symbolizes an officer’s higher calling.”
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