Mike Ferguson Delivers Commencement Address to UWF Class of 2014

Mike Ferguson Delivers Commencement Address to UWF ClassOn May 3, 2014, Brigadier General Mike Ferguson received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree and delivered the following Commencement Address to the UWF Class of 2014:

LESSONS LEARNED & RELEARNED

THE MOST IMPORTANT WORDS YOU WANT TO HEAR RIGHT NOW ARE: I’LL KEEP THIS SPEECH SHORT!!

I WOULD LIKE TO THANK THE TRUSTEES, PRES. BENSE, PROVOST SAUNDERS, VP KELLY, ASST VP BLODGETT AND ALL DEANS FOR THIS HONOR, I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO THANK THE 6 DEANS OF COB, AND 5 PROFESSORS OF MILITARY SCIENCE THAT I HAVE WORKED WITH OVER THE YEARS AS WELL AS THE MANY ARMY UNITS, ROTC ARMY CADETS, THE DIRECTOR OF THE MILITARY RESOURCE CENTER, ALL THE FACULTY AS WELL AS FRIENDS AT UWF, AND MY LAW FIRM.
MOST IMPORTANTLY THANK GOD AND MY WIFE OF 52 YEARS ALONG WITH MY CHILDREN AND MY FAMILY FOR PUTTING UP WITH MY SHORTCOMINGS, MY ENDLESS DEPLOYMENTS ON THE EAST GERMAN BORDER, VIETNAM, KOREA, AND FIELD TRAINING EXERCISES, ENDLESS DAYS AND NIGHTS IN THE PENTAGON AND THE NATIONAL MILITARY COMMAND AND CONTROL CENTER AND OVER 30 MOVES OR TDY’S OFTEN ENTAILING LONG PERIODS AWAY FROM HOME. IF I MISSED ANYONE, I APOLOGIZE BECAUSE I HAVE HAD LOTS OF HELP AND GOD’S BLESSINGS JUST TO STAY ALIVE THIS LONG… AND HERE’S TO THE NVA AND VC FOR BEING BAD SHOTS AT TIMES!
NOW, MY CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL YOU GRADUATES, WITHOUT WHOM I WOULD NOT BE HERE TODAY AND WITHOUT WHICH THIS GREAT UNIVERSITY AND OUR NATION COULD NOT PERSIST AND CONTINUE TO GROW.
WITH THAT SAID, I HAVE TWO MAIN OBJECTIVES OF MY
TALK TO YOU TODAY: MY FIRST OBJECTIVE IS TO REMIND YOU, AS YOU START THIS PART OF YOUR LIFE, BY HELPING YOU REALIZE YOU COULD ONLY HAVE THIS LIFE THRU THE BENEFITS GRANTED YOU BY THIS GREAT NATION. GOD HAS ALSO BEEN GOOD TO ME BY ALLOWING ME TO SERVE THIS NATION IN VARIOUS CAPACITIES FOR ALMOST 58 YEARS. THE POINT IS THAT YOU MUST REMEMBER TO SERVE THIS NATION WITH A SPIRIT OF DUTY, HONOR AND COUNTRY! SUCH SERVICE IS EPITOMIZED BY OUR VETERANS WHO HAVE SERVED AND WHO STILL SERVE BY THEIR SACRIFICES (I WOULD ASK ALL VETERANS, THEIR FAMILIES, AND THOSE WHO SUPPORT THROUGH HELPING OUR ARMED FORCES TO STAND!). THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE! PRES. BENSE, AS A TOKEN OF MY ESTEEM FOR YOUR SERVICE AND SUPPORT I WOULD LIKE YOU TO COME RECEIVE THIS SMALL TOKEN OF THE ARMY’S APPRECIATION FOR YOUR SUPPORT! (GIVE COFFEE CUP) YOU ARE NOW A MEMBER OF FERGUSON’S ARMY! PRES. BENSE AND THOSE WHO SERVE OUR NATION TODAY REPRESENT TO ME THE TRUE WARRIORS THAT HERACLITUS DESCRIBED CENTURIES AGO:
“IN BATTLE”
BY: HERACLITUS
OUT OF EVERY 100 MEN, 10 SHOULD NOT EVEN BE THERE, 80 ARE TARGETS, 9 ARE REAL FIGHTERS AND WE ARE LUCKY TO HAVE THEM, FOR THEY MAKE THE BATTLE. AH, BUT THE ONE, ONE IS A WARRIOR, AND HE WILL BRING THE OTHERS BACK!”

PRES. BENSE IS SUCH A WARRIOR.

MY SECOND OBJECTIVE IS TO POINT OUT SEVEN LESSONS LEARNED FROM MY EXPERIENCES WHICH MAY HELP YOU SURVIVE AND TURN KNOWLEDGE (WHICH YOU LEARNED AT UWF) INTO WISDOM. REMEMBER-KNOWLEDGE IS KNOWING A TOMATO IS A FRUIT AND WISDOM IS KNOWING NOT TO PUT TOMATOES INTO A FRUIT SALAD!

1. MY FIRST LESSON FOR YOU TO TAKE WITH YOU TODAY IS: YOU CAN’T GET ANYWHERE WITHOUT HELP FROM GOD AND OTHERS. AND IT DOESN’T HURT TO SAY THE 23RD PSALM. WHEN YOU FEEL ALL IS LOST!

2. MY SECOND LESSON IS CONTAINED IN A 1959 SONG TITLED “THAT’S LIFE”!
SONG: I’VE BEEN A PUPPET, A PAUPER, A PIRATE, A POET, A PAWN AND A KING. I’VE BEEN UP AND DOWN AND OVER AND OUT, BUT I KNOW ONE THING,. EACH TIME I FIND MYSELF FLAT ON MY FACE, I PICK MYSELF UP AND GET BACK IN THE RACE.

SO, THE 2ND LESSON, STATES YOU MUST PICK YOURSELF UP EVERY TIME YOU FALL DOWN.

3. MY THIRD LESSON IS: APPRECIATE OBSTACLES! FROM GROWING UP ON A CLAY ROAD ON E. BOBE STREET IN A FOUR ROOM HOUSE MY DAD BUILT BEFORE HE WAS KIA IN WWII, TO DELIVERING PAPERS HERE AND WORKING AT BOGAN COMPANY HAULING PIPE AND BATHTUBS, TO GRADUATION FROM THE CLASS OF 1956 AT PHS, TO COMPETING FOR A “SONS OF DECEASED VETERANS” APPOINTMENT TO WEST POINT, TO GRUELING TRAINING IN THE ARMY INFANTRY, AIRBORNE AND RANGER COURSES; AND CONFRONTING ENEMIES SEVERAL YEARS ON THE GERMAN BORDER DURING THE BERLIN CRISIS, SEVERAL YEARS IN VIETNAM INCLUDING TET OF 68, TO COMMANDING THE DMZ BRIGADE IN KOREA, AS WELL AS COMMANDING ANOTHER BRIGADE IN THE US AT FT. POLK, AND WORKING THROUGHOUT THE NIGHT AT NMCC DURING A REAL TEST OF POTENTIAL NUCLEAR ATTACK PROCEDURES, I FOUND EVERY OBSTACLE CAN BE AN OPPORTUNITY.

THE COROLLARY TO THE THIRD LESSON IS: WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU WILL HELP YOU SURVIVE AND GROW.

4. THE FOURTH LESSON IS: DO YOUR BEST FOR YOUR CAREER AND FOR FAMILY AND FRIENDS. THAT MAY SOUND EASY BUT I HAVE FOUND, PARTICULARLY IN TODAY’S DISJOINTED AND COMPLEX WORLD, THOSE TWO THINGS ARE HARD WORK FOR WE MERE MORTALS, PARTICULARLY IF YOU ASPIRE TO BE A LEADER.

5. THE FIFTH LESSON IS: I WOULD SUGGEST THAT ALL USE A SIMPLE PARADIGM TO APPROACH EVEN THE EASIEST OR MOST COMPLEX TASKS IN LIFE: PLAN, PREPARE, INFORM AND SUPERVISE. REMEMBER LIVES CAN BE LOST OR RUINED WHEN YOU DO NOT PLAN, PREPARE, INFORM AND SUPERVISE.

6. THE SIXTH LESSON IS: ALWAYS SET YOUR STANDARDS HIGH, TAKE ON THE TOUGHEST TASKS, MAKE YOURSELF PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY STRONG SO YOU CAN BE THE BEST LEADER AND PERSON YOU CAN BE. ABOVE ALL, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP.

7. AND…TO EMPHASIZE THE SEVENTH AND LAST LESSON: PERHAPS GENERAL GEORGE PATTON SAID IT BEST WHEN HE SAID; “YOU CANNOT BE DISCIPLINED IN GREAT THINGS AND UNDISCIPLINED IN SMALL THINGS. BRAVE UNDISCIPLINED MEN HAVE NO CHANCE AGAINST THE DISCIPLINE AND VALOR OF OTHER MEN.” SO BE DISCIPLINED! THESE ARE MY 7 LESSONS FOR YOU TO TAKE AND FOLLOW IN YEARS AHEAD.

8. I HOPE I HAVE KEPT THIS SHORT ENOUGH, YET HAVE EMBEDDED AT LEAST SOME LESSONS OF SURVIVAL AS YOU RECEIVE YOUR DEGREE AND BEGIN TO STEP OUT TO A BRAVE NEW WORLD, A NEW LIFE, AND GREAT SUCCESS. I AM PROUD OF YOU AS I KNOW YOUR FRIENDS AND LOVED ONES ARE.

9. ONE FINAL NOTE – SAY THANK YOU TO YOUR FAMILY, PROFESSORS, YOUR FRIENDS AND THOSE WHO HAVE HELPED YOU REACH THIS SIGNIFICANT MOMENT. YOU MAY NEVER HAVE ANOTHER CHANCE TO SAY THANK YOU AND YOUR EDUCATION IS THE TRUE MISSION FULFILLMENT OF THEIR LIFE PURPOSE. GOD BLESS AND KEEP YOU AND GOD BLESS THE USA! THANK YOU FOR LISTENING.

© 2014 BY BRIG. GENERAL MIKE FERGUSON