I am an Army Cadet. Soon I will take an oath and become an Army Officer committed to defending the values which make this nation great. Honor is my touchstone. I understand mission first and people always.
I am the past – the spirit of those warriors who have made the final sacrifice.
I am the present – the scholar and apprentice soldier enhancing my skills in the science of warfare and the art of leadership.
But above all, I am the future – the future warrior leader of the United States Army. May God give me the compassion and judgment to lead and the gallantry in battle to win.
I will do my duty.
What it means...
The Cadet Creed, in a few carefully selected words, explains what is expected of an Army cadet. The Cadet Creed is a key element in the traditions of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps. The following explanation, when appropriate, accompanies the reading of the Cadet Creed.
"DEFENDING the values which make the Nation great." Cadets, when commissioned, take an oath to defend, with their lives when necessary, the Constitution of the United States of America. This document, created more than two centuries ago after our nation's valiant struggle for independence, is the keystone of our way of life. Our nation derives its strength from the consent of the governed. The basic tenets of our Constitution are that all people have certain natural inalienable rights, are born equal, and must be treated equal before the law. These are powerful words which have meaning only as long as we are willing to defend our value system as embodied in the Constitution. This, each Army cadet is honor-bound to do, both as a cadet and later as a commissioned officer.
"HONOR is my touchstone." Honor is used in two ways when referring to Army ROTC cadets. Serving the people of the United Sates as a commissioned officer is an honor afforded only a small fraction of our young men and women. More importantly, "with honor" describes how an Army cadet will serve upon being commissioned. Honor is the bedrock upon which the Army officer builds a successful career. Honor encompasses integrity and dedication. Honor is the thread which holds together the fabric of our Army as it discharges its critical mission of being the strategic force which maintains the integrity of our nation and peace in our world. Serving with honor begins in the cadet years and builds throughout a career.
"MISSION first and PEOPLE always." The Army cadet who lives by these five words will always get the job done, which is the essence of being an Army officer. A commissioned officer has a sacred obligation to take care of the men and women entrusted to the unit – to guide, train, teach, and counsel. The leader who cares for people will always command the respect and dedicated service of those he or she commands.
"I am the PAST." The legacy of the Army cadet dates to the colonial Army which won our independence. It has been enriched by each generation that served in time of peace – to safeguard our security, and in time of war – to secure victory through supreme sacrifices. The tradition of the Army cadet is to live up to the magnificent example set by their former comrades-in-arms, at home and overseas, as the guardians of liberty.
"I am the PRESENT." Army cadets are competent Americans who become superior leaders through a commitment to excellence by the officers and noncommissioned officers in the ROTC program. The skills of the Army cadet are enhanced in the classroom, at training exercises, at advanced and basic camp, through Ranger Challenge, and the Cadet Professional Development Training (CPDT) program. The Army Cadet dedicated to excellence will become an officer who is both a battle winner and a respected leader.
"I am the FUTURE." Army cadets are indeed the Army's future officer leadership. Into the hands of Army cadets across the nation is placed the responsibility of leading the outstanding young Americans who fill the enlisted ranks of our Army. Our Army cadets will be challenged to maintain and strengthen our Army and to master the technologically advanced weapons systems being fielded. Being an officer-leader will be both a challenge and an opportunity. Each Army cadet must live up to his or her full potential to become a warrior leader with the "right stuff" to be a battle winner.
"I will do my DUTY." Doing one's duty encompasses all the traits inherent in being an Army cadet and an Army officer. In the words of one of America's historic Army commanders, General Robert E. Lee, "Duty is the most sublime word in our language. Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more. You should never wish to do less."