Season of Gratitude

SEASON OFWe began this year at Georgia Military College with a new email and social media campaign, “Attitude of Gratitude,” that each month features an exceptional employee we are so thankful to have as a member of the GMC Family. Each of them represents a shining example of a team member who is a joy to work with and who brings joy to everything they do at work.

Expressions of gratitude always brighten up a day – for the receiver and for the giver. Gratitude is truly meant to be shared with others. During the busy holiday season, as we spend time with friends and family, shopping and traveling, celebrating New Year’s Day, let’s add gratitude to our daily to-do lists.

Gratitude for those we love and appreciate. Letting family members and friends know how much it really means to have them in our life. Those moments are priceless. Saying thanks is so simple, yet always appreciated by everyone. If someone bakes your favorite cake, tell them how grateful you are. It can be as simple as telling someone thanks for holding the door open for you.

Gratitude for the little things in life. Oftentimes, it’s the little things that mean the most. Reading a book beside a roaring fire in the fireplace. Watching the sunrise, or sunset, alone or with a special someone. Spending quality time with family and friends. You don’t even have to do anything special. Just be together. That’s all it takes.

Gratitude for a new year. New opportunities. New experiences. 2020 holds so much potential. There is a lot to be grateful for in the upcoming year. Good times and bad times. They both hold experiences and lessons to be thankful for. We can be grateful for the ability to find the positive in the negative.

Throughout the year – every year – I am tremendously grateful to be a part of the GMC Family. I am truly grateful for every team member of the GMC Family. I am also extremely grateful for our students, alumni, and friends. I share the attitude of gratitude every day at GMC.

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

pearlharborFew dates in our nation’s 243-year history have made such a huge impact on the trajectory of world history or can stir an immediate emotional response than that of December 7, 1941. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s wise words remain true today – it is “a date which will live in infamy.”

On December 7, 1941, more than 2,300 people – members of the military and civilians – were killed during a surprise attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor, as well as other areas on the island of Oahu. It was the impetus for the United States to enter into World War II.

Many people aren’t aware that Pearl Harbor was just one of a number of military bases attacked by the Japanese on December 7, 1941. Members of the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, the same U.S. Army division that I was assigned to decades later, were among the many soldiers and airmen who served bravely and fought valiantly on that infamous day in history.

My father was a 15 year old living on the island when his father who was stationed at Schofield Barracks on the morning of the attack.  I would later serve two tours on Oahu and be stationed at Schofield Barracks too. The military post was one of the first military installations hit by Japanese fighter pilots on that fateful day in December 1941. When I was there, buildings on the post still held bullets lodged during the waves of aerial attacks by the Japanese.

As with those bullets in the buildings at Schofield Barracks, the island of Oahu holds many reminders of those who selflessly served their country – with thousands making the ultimate sacrifice – on December 7, 1941. For decades, the Arizona Memorial is where many veterans and their families have gone to pay their respects to those who perished in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

In 1994, the date of December 7 was designated as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. It is a day when we can each take the time to remember and to honor the thousands who lost their lives and the more than a thousand who were injured – military and civilian – during the attack on Pearl Harbor. It is also a time to remember and to appreciate the men and women who proudly and selflessly served during World War II, as well as to honor and to thank our World War II veterans and their families.

You don’t have to travel to Oahu to pay your respects. On December 7, you can chose to attend a National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony, pay a visit to the Georgia War Veterans Home in Milledgeville, or simply say a prayer of gratitude for those who courageously fought and for those who lost their lives on that infamous day in 1941. We are forever in their debt.

The People We Call Veterans

We're giving away FREE stuff!Today I want to do exactly what this day is set aside for me to do, which is to extend my gratitude and sincerest thanks to each and every one of our Veterans who – at some point in their life heard that call to serve their country and made the choice to answer it. That’s a decision that every single Veteran has in common, and it’s a decision you can be proud of for the rest of your life. Thank you for making that decision.

I spend a great deal of time thinking about the men and women who answer that call. I think about what kind of world we would live in without that kind of people. Where would our great nation be if we didn’t have so many people who put service before self and answer that call?

Bill Crawford was a genuinely nice guy. He worked as a Janitor at the United States Air Force Academy, and he loved interacting with the young men there. Telling them stories about his days as a boxer. He had the kind of personality that just stands out- the kind of personality that you notice.

A new cadet would strike up a conversation with a fellow cadet that went something like this, “I met the janitor today.”

“Mr. Crawford? Nice guy, isn’t he,” the second cadet would say.

“He sure is. And really interesting too. Did you know he used to be a boxer?”

“Oh yeah. He was a local champion. Does that surprise you?”

“You sure wouldn’t guess it just from looking at him.”

But he was a boxer. In fact, Bill Crawford thought he was good enough to have gone pro, but he never had the chance. Like so many men of his generation, Bill Crawford gave up everything to answer America’s call to serve.

Everyone who has spent even a single day in any branch of our military knows that call to serve is not an easy call to answer. Much is asked of the man or woman who answers that call. The first thing you discover is that service always entails one personal sacrifice after another. It’s a series of forfeitures you have to make. You have to leave your family- spouse, children. Your friends. Your home. You trade all that to go have orders barked at you and embark on what is probably the most difficult few weeks of your life up to that point.

When you make that decision to put service before self, everything in your life becomes like the equipment you load into a rucksack. Everyone who has ever served from the beginning of time knows that packing up that equipment is a very delicate balancing act. You’re walking a fine line. You want to make sure that you have every single thing you could possibly need for any situation you might find yourself in, and at the same time, you’re looking for anything that can be left behind to lighten the load. Do I really need this? It’s pretty heavy? Can I possibly live without it? You could pick any soldier at random, dump out their bag to go through the items, and you’d discover that there’s a correlation between how much each item weighs and how crucially important it is. The more an item weighs, the more important it must be.

Most of the time, that’s what service before self means. It means leaving things behind even if you need them. And I’m not talking about a weapon, or a carton of cigarettes, or some eating utensils. I’m talking about those people you love. Everyone you have to leave behind to in order to serve. Your family. Your friends. Sometimes the mission will ask you to leave the whole country behind. And you do it. It tears you up inside. You don’t want to do it. But you know that if we don’t have people who are willing to plow through all of that personal sacrifice. If we don’t have people who are willing to make forfeiture after forfeiture- people who give of themselves no matter what is asked- then our nation and what it represents won’t survive. So, what can you do? You get the order, so you ruck up and head out into the great unknown. And you stay thankful for what you still have.

I company’s third platoon had moved up a hillside when an enemy machine gun nest began to rain death around them.  A young Private attacked to the left, destroying the gun that was threatening his fellow American soldiers.  Then, without hesitation, he shifted his attack to the right, knocking out the second enemy emplacement. He turned the captured machine gun on the now routed and fleeing German soldiers. When the gunfire finally stopped, the men of the 3rd platoon who were still standing thanked God that they had survived, and they knew it wouldn’t have been possible without the heroic actions of that young Private. They all wanted to thank the Private, but… nobody could find him.

The Private received the Medal of Honor- the nation’s highest award for military valor- for his actions that day, but they weren’t able to place it around his neck and thank him for the service he had rendered. Instead, they had to hand it to his broken-hearted father as a posthumous honor. His father wept.

Because the people you leave at home, they’re veterans too really. And they didn’t even sign up to serve, but they have to make the big sacrifices too. In a way, they’re all drafted into their service. They’re forced to make the sacrifices and to understand the greater picture of why those sacrifices have to be made.

So what do they do? They live their lives on pins and needles. They do their best to go about their daily lives pretending everything is normal. They try to make it through each day without spending every waking minute wondering if their soldier is okay. Even though they pull themselves out of bed knowing that each sunrise could be the dawn of a catastrophic day. Because somewhere- maybe on the other side of the world- their loved one’s well-being is in God’s hands.

It’s a little different when you’re the one in harm’s way. You’re out on the mission, you’re out there doing what you were trained to do. You’re focused and there’s not a lot of downtime. But when there is. When you get that downtime- that’s when the homesickness rushes through you hard. It’s like standing in the ocean and being hit in the back by a wave.

The context of service changes tremendously from decade to decade. The equipment changes. The food changes. Who’s ever had a Meal Ready to Eat? Did you poke holes in it and heat it up with some C4?

In early wars, lots of guys died from drinking the water. By Vietnam, you could purify water with halazone and then take the lomotil tablets to help with whatever problems the halazone caused you.

If you served in Korea or WWII, you didn’t even have the MREs. You had your C-rations and your K-rations.

The uniforms change- if you served in Cuba during the Spanish American War, you’d take your blue coat and smear as much mud on it as you could. That was the only way to protect yourself from snipers who could see that blue coat standing out from a mile away. By the time men were fighting in Vietnam, they had boonie suits and tigerstripes. Today, we have the digital camouflage.

The missions have certainly changed. A new decade often brings with it new enemies and new threats to freedom. America began with soldiers fighting to free us from the British. A couple hundred years later, America fought alongside the British to save the world from Hitler. Then fifty years of proxy wars to prevent the spread of communism throughout the world. Then, Saddam Hussein, The Taliban, Al Qaeda, ISIS.

The context of service changes with the world. As enemies. New threats. New technologies.

What hasn’t changed from day one is the type of person who answers the call to serve. The type of person who is willing to say, “my country needs me, so I’m going to make the sacrifices.” It’s a selfless action.

And those who serve have to be selfless. They have to be willing to put the service above everything else. That’s how you end up surrounded by the kind of men and women you can trust to the end of the Earth. It’s not casual trust, it’s the ultimate trust. You won’t leave them behind no matter what and you know down to your bones that that person next to you won’t leave you behind no matter what.

Men like that Private who saved I company’s third platoon and received a posthumous Medal of Honor. But even though that Private was presumed dead, he wasn’t actually killed in the battle. He was taken prisoner by the Germans and held in a POW camp.  When the Russian Army advanced into Germany, the Private and his fellow POWs were arched 500 miles through the freezing mountains. 52 days, 10 miles a day, fueled by one meal that consisted of one potato. He was finally liberated in the Spring of 1945 by an advancing tank column.

He got to return home and hold the Medal of Honor that had been awarded to him posthumously when America thought he’d been lost.

That Private blended back into to civilian life – back into anonymity. He went to work at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

“I met the janitor today.”

“Mr. Crawford? Nice guy, isn’t he,”

“He sure is. And really interesting too. Did you know he used to be a boxer?”

“Oh yeah. He was a local champion. Does that surprise you?”

“You sure wouldn’t guess it just from looking at him.”

“Don’t you know about the janitor?”

“Know what?”

“That janitor wears the Medal of Honor.”

I spend a lot of time thinking about the kind of people who answer the call to serve.

Private Crawford’s story is a good reminder that there are heroes among us. I wonder how many students took the time to know him.  How many were humble enough to know the janitor. I wonder if any of them discovered his story and wished they had been more courteous.

Those are the kind of people who have gotten this country where it is today. Men and women like Private Crawford who heard that call to serve and answered it. Most of them don’t have Medals of Honor. Most of them weren’t prisoners of war. But that’s okay. Like I said before, the context of every veteran’s service is different. But every single one of them decided to put service before self and answer their country’s call.

Those are the people we call veterans. And they deserve every bit of thanks we have to give.

140 Years of Character-Based Education and Tradition

happy birthday Georgia Military CollegeOn Monday, October 14th, Georgia Military College (GMC) celebrates 140 years of providing hope and opportunity to students across the state of Georgia! The date marks a true milestone in the history of our institution and in Milledgeville where it all began. We are grateful to the Milledgeville community for a partnership that has made it possible to provide a place where students can learn, grow, thrive, and become leaders of character within their communities.

In 1879- the same year Thomas Edison first introduced the light bulb- GMC was established as Middle Georgia Military and Agricultural College. With nothing more than a handful of faculty members, 219 students, and the Old Capitol Building classes began in 1880. Our Mission was simple, to provide a character-based education to young men and women across the state of Georgia and especially Baldwin County. Today, we continue in that tradition serving almost 17,000 students at 14 campuses across the state of Georgia, including a Global Online Campus, in addition to over 730 students in our Preparatory School, grades 3 through 12.

We have so much to be thankful for as we reflect on the past 140 years. Our Prep School has continued to be where young minds are inspired and challenged, character is developed and an attitude of serving our community is instilled in our students. This year our Prep School reopened its doors to third graders, we moved into our brand-new Prep School Annex and will shortly bring life back to the newly renovated and restored City Elementary School known as Jenkins Hall.

GMC’s #1 Strategic Initiative is Contribute to Student Success. The Junior College’s primary measure of student success is the annual number of students who graduate. This past year (2018-2019) the Junior College had our largest number of college graduates in our history with 1899 students receiving their degree. This represented a 32% increase over the number of graduates from just four years ago (2014-2015). Of the graduates who went on to four-year colleges and universities, 71% went to a University System of Georgia college.

GMC has never wavered from our military focus and proudly serves as The Military Junior College of Georgia. It is here that we educate and develop young men and women of character to serve in uniform in the ranks of the Army and Air Force. Today, as one of only four military junior colleges in the nation, we pride ourselves on striving for excellence and developing leadership within our Corps of Cadets. We take great pride in being a key commissioning source for our Georgia National Guard. Additionally, our Junior College Corps of Cadets now also has a thriving U.S. Service Academy Preparatory Program. This program prepares young men and women to enter into the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Air Force Academy.

After 140 years, we remain more committed than ever to our core institutional values of Duty, Honor, and Country and our motto of Character Above All. That’s why our graduates have distinguished themselves in government, the arts, education, as well as charitable and commercial industries throughout the United States. Since World War I, 86 GMC heroes have laid down their lives to defend American freedom throughout the world.

Our 140th birthday celebration is a celebration among our entire Georgia Military College family because everyone has been important in assisting GMC in fulfilling its mission to develop educated citizens who are contributing members of society. Thanks for all that each of you have done to help make this possible. Without the overwhelming support we’ve received from our GMC family, our community and throughout the state and beyond, we would not be able to provide the innumerable opportunities, the hope and the character-based education that have led so many thousands of our graduates to become leaders and tireless contributors to their communities and our nation from 1879 to 2019. We are even more excited for the years ahead and know that together, we will continue to fulfill our mission and provide the hope, opportunity, excellence and leadership that is so important in our nation.

#GMCproud #140YearsAndCounting

Why we put chalk to brick: An act of remembrance

September 11, 2001 is a day that America will never forget.essay

It’s a day that I still remember like yesterday. It’s hard to believe that it’s now been 18 years. A lot has happened in that time since then. With the exception of 10, none of our Georgia Military College Prep School students were alive for 9/11, yet they write names of lives lost on the bricks every year, and write an essay about the significance of that day. Each year, I’m blown away to read what they wrote.

So this year, on the 18th anniversary of 9/11, I want to share this year’s winning essays with you, so that we must always remember the importance of keeping the memory alive of those that gave their all on September 11th and in the Global War on Terror.

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Why we put chalk to brick: An act of remembrance – by Danica Resha

Billy Ray Cyrus said it best in his song “All Gave Some, Some Gave All”. He reminds us that some Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice for this great country. As Georgia Military College Prep School puts the chalk to brick on 9/11 every year, one cannot help but reflect on all the ultimate sacrifices made on September 11, 2001, and in the Global War on Terror.

When I was first given my list of names last year, it was just a list of names to me. In that moment, I did not realize how “real” these names would become to me over the next few moments. As I made my way down to the bricks, I saw the massive number of names already written representing each person that perished on 09/11 and in the Global War on Terror.

I remember thinking “Wow, I never realized so many Americans had lost their lives in such a short time span”. I stood there for what seemed like forever just looking at all the names and thinking about how in one single moment, everything can change. After sometime, I sat down on the bricks and began to write from my own list. As I wrote each name, I found myself visualizing each person and wondering about many things. Were any of them married? Where were they from? Did any of them have a daughter, like me at home, missing her daddy? How old were they? Were they in military?

By the time I finished writing all my names, I found my heart filled with sadness and tears flowing. As I stood up, I looked around at the continuously growing number of names, and I remember thinking about all the families and friends that would never be able to hold or talk to their loved one(s) again. I thought about the little girl that would never be able to hug her daddy again or hear his voice telling her how proud he is of her. I closed my eyes, lowered my head, and had a moment of silence for each lost life. In this moment, the realization of why we write each name, every September 11, hit me. I realized how important it is to make sure I celebrate and never forget those who have sacrificed everything for my freedom and safety.

So, as we put chalk to brick again this year, I know there will be new names to add to the already too long list of Americans who have made the ultimate sacrifice in our fight on terrorism.

I will look at these names and again wonder about each person’s life and what could have been for them. Over time, the names we write in chalk will fade, but the memories and sacrifices of all those that perished during the September 11 attacks and in the Global War on Terror should never fade from our hearts or minds.

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Why we put chalk to brick: An act of remembrance – by Logan Mitchem

Name, after name, after name. Names of family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. Names of the thousands of lives that were lost, but never forgotten. 9/11 left an imprint on America, and forever will the people of our nation come together to remember the names of the unfortunate souls who took their last breath on this tragic day. Although in our small town of Milledgeville Georgia we may not recognize these names, they still hold a special place in our hearts. Each year, to honor these victims, GMC cadets put chalk to brick and write out each of the names, one by one. It gives students the ability to personally connect with the victims, and is a truly eye-opening and humbling experience.

Flags line the sidewalk and white chalk dusts the bricks. Students sit crouched, diligently working to write down as many names as possible. Parents and teachers converse as they watch and even participate. As the crowds thin and the people finish their work, it is a chilling scene.
Walking down the bricks, one can’t help but stare in awe. No words could truly describe the feeling that swallows your heart and mind. This is the image of remembrance. This is the image of love. This is the image of a community coming together to contribute to something much larger than themselves.

It is a feeling like no other to see hundreds of students come together on the bricks of Georgia Military College, chalk in hand. No complaints about the hot weather, sweating in the uniform, or the time it takes to copy the list of victims given to them onto the bricks. Each name is read, written, and remembered. It puts a heavy weight on one’s heart realizing the sheer number of people who were killed on this day, but this realization is good for us. It helps those who were not alive at the time, to truly understand the impact the attack had, and still has, on our nation. It helps us understand why we stand at attention, salutes high, during the annual GMC 9/11 ceremony. It helps us understand why each year our nation comes together, unified, standing together to provide strength for those lost it on this day in history.

Sometimes as citizens, especially the younger generations, 9/11 can lose its meaning. We can forget the suffering thousands endured, and the effect it had on our country. This happens simply because no personal connections can be made, especially for those who were not alive during this time. However, putting chalk to brick puts a name to the tragedy. It becomes more real. These are real people, with real families, and real stories. They deserve to be remembered, and each year they are. This is why we put chalk to brick, it’s an act of remembrance, and an act of love. Never will they be forgotten.