RADM J. Scott Burhoe, President of Fork Union Military Academy, delivered the sermon in chapel on Sunday, November 10, 2013. The following is the message he presented to cadets:
Mr. DJ Williams spoke at Chapel on Thursday, and was amazing.
The thoughtful way he created and delivered his message showed how much he cares for you.
Yesterday morning I went for an 8 mile run, and ran my last two miles on the track.
Thought, maybe I should go up and do ED [Extra Duty] like he did...then noticed that you were running way faster than I was.
Someday perhaps I will require all staff and faculty to do one hour of ED.
Mr. Williams spoke of how we are here as the result of sacrifices others have made for us-not necessarily the work we've done...
It made me think of the many sacrifices others made so that I could be here today...
My father fought in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam as an Army officer.
My mother worked hard to make sure we could afford college.
My wife and children moved 15 times during a 34-year Coast Guard career so that I could keep being promoted...
Many others sacrificed for me...as they have for each of you...
On Tuesday, Chaplain Benson urged us all to take time to consider what and who we are thankful for...
At the end of his talk he said he was thankful for you...the cadets.
Cadets everywhere...whether here, or at the nation's service academies get more advice from speakers than they can even remember.
We tell cadets to follow the rules because that will make them successful.
We tell you how fortunate you are to be part of this Fork Union experience.
How blessed you are to be surrounded by people who care for you and want the best for you...
Personally I think we should spend less time telling you what to do,
And more time showing you through our example.
As much as I want to believe you are listening, I know you are watching.
And - we don't spend enough time telling you and showing you how fortunate we are to have you here.
It is us who are fortunate and blessed.
We need you at least as much as you need us.
We wouldn't have a school without students, and the gift we have to share is education, development, inspiration, and leadership.
The Bible tells us that when Timothy was a young church leader, Paul told him:
"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, conduct, love, and faith. Do not neglect your gift, which was given to you."
In Romans we are told that "we have different gifts."
Gifts to serve, to teach, to give encouragement, to lead.
God also tells us not to think of ourselves too highly, but we are to recognize, understand, and find our gifts so we can use them.
Last Thursday, I had a cadet in my office as a result of disciplinary issues and I asked him:
"What is your God given gift?"
"What gifts did God give you?"
He thought about it for a long, long, very quiet time.
It actually broke my heart a bit...
So let me ask you the same question:
So that you will be ready to answer it...
"What is your God-Given gift?"
"What special talents did God give to you?"
You see I know that each and every one of you is a gift from God, and I know each of you has a special gift God gave to you...
...it may be brilliance, athleticism, personality, kindness, patience, strength...
If you don't know what it is, let us help you find it...
Help us remember why we are here...
Which is to serve you, and to teach you, and to help you be successful...
Last week I sat down with Cadet Matt Carmine and asked him the same question I ask many cadets and staff because I want to know the answer:
"Why are so many cadets successful here, and yet some struggle with the system...many thrive, yet a few fail...many try hard...some barely try."
If anyone here has the answer to that questions, please let me know...because I want everyone here to thrive.
Everyone here deserves the very best.
Imagine the possibility of a place where everyone looks after each other and shares the burden.
Where we sacrifice for each other.
Imagine a place where we are all thankful and acknowledge what gifts we have and the sacrifices others have made for us.
Know that I pray for you every day and know that each of you is a gift from God.
Use your gifts to serve Him.
Let us pray: "Dear God, thank you for this time together to worship you. We ask that you comfort those who grieve and bring happiness to those who are sad. We know you are always there for us. Please continue to watch over these young men as they go about their daily lives. Amen"