The War on Terror and ISIS were two hot-button topics addressed by honoured guest, General Dennis Reimer, the 33rd chief of staff of the U.S. Army.
Upper School students sat riveted during General Reimer’s hour-long presentation in Ketchum Auditorium, Monday, where he touched on the challenges and realities of the military in the 21st century. His career spans the Vietnam War and the Cold War, to Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and a posting under former presidents G. H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
He opened his talk describing how similar his early years were to those in the audience – he too attended an all-boys school. “I learned during those four years how important discipline was,” he said of his time at the U.S. Military Academy. “I learned how important standards were; I learned the importance of time-management; and I learned most importantly that when you fail, and I failed often, you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep going.”
He focused his discussion on six geographic command areas and the risks and threats associated with each. “The hot theatre right now is the Middle East where there is a lot of instability,” he said. Rooted in their issues is a wealth distribution problem, gender issues, conflicting religions, civil war, fractured institutions, weapons of mass destruction, and most notably terrorism from groups such as ISIS and Al Qaida, General Reimer listed. He spent time speaking about issues in South America, the Syrian refugee crisis in Europe, Boko Haram, North Korea, and cyber-attacks. He also spoke about the role of the military in social issues such as food and water safety in Africa, search and rescue missions after natural disasters, and boots on the ground during the E. Bola crisis.
“What was most impressive,” said Len Gurr, history and politics teacher, “was his ability to speak with tremendous depth and insight on a myriad of topics, including military history, current military realities, questions about ISIS and the War on Terror, issues of national security and intelligence analysis, the criminal justice system, as well as contemporary politics.”
Three fundamental principles closed out General Reimer’s speech: first, do what’s right everyday legally and morally; second, be the best you can possibly be; and third, do unto others as you’d have done unto you in a similar situation. “I’ll guarantee you that if you live up to those three principles, you will be a success in life.”
There is a connection between General Reimer and SAC. Grade 12 student Elliott Powers is General Reimer’s great nephew, so he was excited to visit the School. “Elliott was instrumental in making this happen,” said Dave Stewart, Head of History.
After his presentation, he spent the remainder of the day visiting grade 10-12 history and politics classes. “He spoke at length about the importance of leadership and core values in the boys’ personal development,” explained Mr. Gurr. “He fielded questions on his career, and the current state of the political landscape in America and abroad.”
The General answered some very tough and provocative questions. “The students were well-spoken and their questions were thoughtful,” said Mr. Stewart. “They asked the kind of questions that, I think, any educator would be proud of.”
“General Reimer’s articulate, humble, and sincere speaking style, backed by a remarkable combination of knowledge and first-hand experience, made the entire day unforgettable,” said Mr. Gurr. “Without question, his visit has left a lasting impact on the history and politics students of St. Andrew’s.”
Story by Nicolette Fleming