In The Trenches

Stand at attention

Published on November 14, 2023 Back to blog

A few weeks ago, while in Charlestown, SC, my wife and I visited The Citadel. We wanted to see and learn more about the school where her father, Warren, briefly attended before enlisting in the Army for WWII. Fortunately for us, it was family weekend.  So, we were pleasantly surprised to find the campus bustling with people – and even got to watch the cadet parade full of pomp and circumstance (and very loud cannons).

While there, we made our way to the library to look for a yearbook photo of Warren.  The librarian pulled yearbooks from 1941-1943 for us to scan. However, he wasn’t in any of them. We then asked for the 1944 book, but were told that there wasn’t one. The class of 1944 only had 6 graduating seniors – all others went to war, so they didn’t publish a yearbook.  They call them “the lost class of 1944.” 

Upon returning from the Citadel, I couldn’t help but reflect upon what I witnessed there, and how the attributes that the cadets demonstrated are those required for the success of any team – on or off the field.

  1. Discipline. As I watched the thousands of cadets march  across the field in perfect harmony, I thought of the endless hours they worked to get to that level of perfection.  Excellence requires discipline.
  2. Respect. Watching the body language among the cadets themselves, and with their superiors, I could literally see and feel the respect they had for one another.  A requirement for any winning team.
  3. Purpose. Without a purpose, you have nothing to fight for.  These cadets are being trained to fight for our freedom.  What is your team fighting for?
  4. Pride. Largely due to the  prior-noted attributes, there was a clear sense of pride that each cadet demonstrated. But, perhaps equally important (and heart-warming) was the pride demonstrated by parents, grandparents and siblings visiting their cadet(s). The lines of people out the door of the the bookstore, waiting to purchase Citadel merchandise said it all.
  5. Commitment. The class of 1944 was certainly committed, and stepped up when it was time to really go to battle. When it is time for a big challenge, what will your team do?

Before visiting the Citadel, I knew little about it.  But now, even though my father-in-law’s photo isn’t in any yearbook there, I wear a Citadel Bulldog shirt proudly. Here’s to you, Warren!

Jeff Freedman
CEO/Managing Partner
Small Army | Finn Partners