PROVO — Amid the rain and cooler temperatures, patriotic anthems welcomed students and community members to campus as cadets from the school's ROTC assembled Friday morning for the annual BYU ROTC Presidential Review and Veterans Day commemoration.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was honored as this year’s Leadership Excellence Award recipient.
"The criteria for the award includes those who have demonstrated throughout their life dedication to the values of duty, honor, country, God and family," Lt. Col. Dewey Boberg said.
"He has a great military background — both in the German air force and here in the U.S. He learned how to fly airplanes in the German air force, and then came here for his pilot training, so he has a military background to go with his great service to the church and to his country and all of us now."
Prior to accepting his award, President Uchtdorf spoke to the cadets.
"I served six years in the military," he said. "I was trained well in forms of combat, survival and leadership. But only after having actually served as a soldier during the Cold War in Europe did I realize that our role as a well-trained and highly motivated military force was to keep and bring peace to a troubled world. Bringing and keeping peace is a significant part of the healer’s art."
Drawing from the words of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, President Uchtdorf said: "'The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.' … Many nations around the world look at you, the U.S. armed forces, with the hope that you will help them find and keep the peace. The American people have great confidence in you, that you will do the right thing, even in the face of danger; to keep the nation safe, even in times of struggle; and win the nation’s wars, even against a most elusive foe.
"As I have traveled throughout the world, I recognized that all people regardless of culture, language or religion, desire prosperity, happiness and peace," he said. "These are worldwide desires. We know there are many things happening in this world that do not reflect these wholesome desires. Some of you may expect to be deployed to places where you will see the stark difference between war and peace. I respect and honor each of you for your commitment to serve your country, to serve your people and to serve God."
It is that service that makes life satisfying and worthwhile, President Uchtdorf said. The commitment to service — whether in wartime or peace — is a hallmark of an officer of the U.S. armed forces.
"The primary cause of all U.S. military academies and ROTC programs is to develop leaders of character," the church leader said. "They are to educate, train and inspire men and women to become officers of character motivated to lead the United States armed forces in service to their nation."
To become leaders of character, individuals honor and practice the core values of integrity first, service before self and excellence in all one does — even and especially in times of loneliness and temptation.
"When it comes to these values, don't ever make an exception," President Uchtdorf said. "Don't rationalize away your core values. Always trust in God."
The annual Presidential Review takes place on the Friday closest to Veterans Day in an effort to show resect for soldiers past and present who have dedicated their lives to preserving the freedoms of the United States.
Prior to the formation on the campus for the Presidential Review, BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson joined President Uchtdorf and leaders from the BYU Army and Air Force ROTC programs to conduct a private wreath-laying ceremony in honor of the BYU students who have given their lives in defense of their country. After, cadets lined up for a flag ceremony where "Taps" was played before they marched to Brigham Square at the center of campus for the Presidential Review.
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