The theme for this year’s Reveille is legacy. In light of this, alumni Douglas C Pearson Sr., class agent for the class of 1966, wrote this story about his class and the legacy they’ve left on this school and the legacy the school has left on them.
In June of 1966 58 seniors received diplomas from Admiral Farragut Academy. A cross section from 18 States and six Countries, we went about our separate ways after experiencing our exposure of customs and traditions at Farragut.
Being founded in 1933, this was a school that was steeped in history and it was held in confidence and respect for each successive graduating class.
In 1958 a Senior Honor Council was formed and, under the supervision of the commandant and headmaster, it was responsible for many privileges that cadets enjoy as well as contributing advice and consent for disciplinary actions of cadets when called for. Its main goal was to establish a working honor system within the academy that would bring pride to all concerned. The objective would consist of one sentence; “I will not lie, cheat or steal.”
In June of 1965, our legacy was further defined by a challenge from the then graduating Battalion Commander, Robert Lee Stout, when he challenged others succeeding them; “The discipline and habits (you) have learned will benefit (you) proportionately. Maturity; physical and mental and spiritual, will be essential. While maturing you will gain self-confidence, pride and a sense of honor from following your moral code, and self-satisfaction. In order to obtain anything, no matter how great or how small, 100% effort will be necessary. If you put forth 100% effort in all that you do, you cannot fail.”
In the fall 1986, during our first class reunion, many of us were astonished by one simple act. In the main entrance of Farragut Hall is the Quarter Deck. Immediately in front of that position, in the floor, is the great seal of Admiral Farragut Academy. As cadets, we left a “Legacy”, custom if you will, that prohibited underclassmen from walking on that seal. Only seniors were permitted to engage in such an action. Numerous other customs and practices had apparently disappeared too, but this one really cut to the bone of our members as we watched while no one at all respected this symbol of legacy itself.
We brought this to the attention of the officials and, along with the other items, agreed that some heritage/legacy issues need to be re-instated and that would help to increase the espirt-de-corp of the cadet battalion. It was five years later, when we returned for our 25th year reunion, that we noticed that not only was the seal “roped off” but several other actions of common courtesy and military discipline had been re-instated. Indeed the corp was more responsive, disciplined and more active in helping to preserve our legacy.
Over the years, during our returns to the campus, each and every visit restored our faith in the fine military institute and academic organization that we had known and enjoyed in the mid-sixties.
In the interim, from then until today, the changes have been great and many are along the lines of adjusting to society. Some are agreeable, some are deemed controversial, but all are necessity in order to have a well-rounded education and training to be prepared for the present and future world.
Along the way the Class of ‘66 has endeavored to not only participate in Homecoming events but to also share our experiences and values with those we encounter.
I recall a time, during my own professional career, when a supervisor was giving me my annual ratings, along with my future potential in my chosen career. While it was a good review he made remarks to me that offended the ideals that have been ingrained in me. He began by informing me that he admired my loyalty and dedication to our organization and the mission that (our profession) was charged to accomplish. He especially remarked about my outstanding support of the objectives that we accomplished. Then he informed me that due to my education and professional background, specifically my military prep-school and college experiences and service to my country, I was too strict. He saw me as an enforcer of the rules and regulations and wanted me to let upon my strict adherence to the safety rules we were charged with accomplishing. He informed me that my future in the organization did not include further advancement in my profession.
The very reasons he admired me were the reasons that he could not support my advancement in the career. At the time it bothered me very much, as with every other job (including this one) I was extremely proud of my accomplishments as an individual and team member. Immediate reflection of my own brought me back to those attributes that were formed as a cadet at Farragut, Georgia Military College and the U.S. Air Force, to say nothing to the challenges that I had experienced up to that point as an Air Traffic Control Specialist and Evaluations Proficiency Development Specialist with the Federal Aviation Administration for well over 10 years.
I went on with my career after that with the same proud qualities that we’ve learned and developed as a result of our education and experiences. It was not long after that the Manager in question was removed from his position, reassigned and eventually advised to retire or face a disciplinary board that would terminate his employment.
My Career? It went forward with promotions and some of the most rewarding experiences I could have ever hoped for with representing the agency at colleges and universities along with being on the Administrators Advisory Board and participating in development of policy and procedures for the facility and industry. How? Because we learned a legacy that carries us through life and serves us well by instilling pride and honor and maintaining a goal of; “I will not lie, cheat or steal.” In addition, no matter what outside influences attempted to intervene, I continued to give 100% in every endeavor I undertook.
I am now retired from what I call a very rewarding career and my challenge today has been to help the class of 1966 re-group every five years and assist in continuing that legacy. Since 1986 it has been a great experience watching all those folks renew those friendships and to vocalize their own thoughts on legacy.
As you can tell, our legacy is alive and well and we will continue to enjoy the ability to pass that legacy on to others and the upcoming graduates and alumni. As one of our members has said over and over; “To remember is to live.” I would add to that; to relay the stories guarantees life.