By John Harlow, USAG Natick Public AffairsMay 24, 2017
It was more than 30 years ago at Murray State University when newly commissioned 2nd Lt. Anthony Potts received his first salute.
That salute came from his father, Wayne Potts, a senior noncommissioned officer in the U.S. Air Force.
Now a brigadier general, the deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command and senior commander of the Natick Soldier Systems Center, Potts shared that story with the newly commissioned officers during the commissioning ceremony at Boston College on May 21.
The day before, Potts also had spoken at the Tufts University commissioning ceremony.
At Boston College, he addressed the Bandana Company, Liberty Battalion graduates. The graduates changed the company's Hollywood name in honor of 1999 BC graduate Welles Remy Crowther, who lost his life saving others in the World Trade Center on 9/11.
Potts thanked the families for the support they provided their sons and daughters as they chose to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
"This ceremony is about the families," said Potts. "We're going to honor the cadets today, but this ceremony is about those who supported you and got you here."
After joking that he couldn't remember the last time he was in the company of 14 lieutenants, Potts turned serious talking to them about their future path.
"You have chosen to join the profession of arms," Potts said. "Some of you were probably six years old when the United States was attacked on 9/11. You have lived in war your entire life and yet, you have freely chosen knowing that you will go into combat. You are about to join a team that is unlike anything we have in the entire rest of the world. Our Army, our military, are the guardians of freedom around this entire world. There are countries that would not know their freedoms today if it were not for young men and women like you who are willing to stand on that wall and say, 'Not on my watch.'"
He shared with the cadets five keys to success as a military officer.
• Lead by example.
• Be humble.
• Don't hesitate to make decisions.
• Be a team player and a team builder.
• Take your work seriously, but don't take yourself too seriously.
Potts spoke of how special those who wear the uniform are.
"One-third of one percent of the population of the United States of America wears this uniform," Potts said. "It is because of who you are that allows us to take that small number and do such a magnificent job."
Military history at Boston College dates back to 1870. The ROTC program started in 1947 and continued until 1970, when it was suspended during the Vietnam War. The program was welcomed back on campus in 1984 as Bravo Company, Liberty Battalion in a partnership with Northeastern University, and more than 1,700 officers entered service through the BC ROTC program.
Potts talked about the oath of office and this special moment that these young men and women will never forget.
"This is the same oath that I swore just over 30 years ago on the campus of Murray State University," said Potts. "Listen to the oath when they take it. This is what makes us uniquely different as a military. They are not taking an oath to a country; they are not taking an oath to a person. They are not taking an Oath to a government. They are taking an oath to an idea. It is an oath to the idea of democracy. It is an oath to the ideas that are found in the Constitution of the United States of America.
"We are a microcosm of society. You truly will be judged and reach the heights that you can reach based on the expanse of your abilities and the constant of your character as you pledge to this idea of the Constitution."
Potts shared his family's military history with the cadets.
"My dad was in the military, my grandfather was in the military, and my son served some time in the military," said Potts. "When I did what you are about to do 30 years ago, I was surprised. My father had served 25 years in the Air Force as an enlisted Airman. My father was the first person to step out of rank, walk up and salute me. It is a day I will never forget, and you will never forget today. It is a special day."
In closing, Potts reminded the cadets that they control their own destiny.
"Every second, every minute, every hour of every day is a gift," said Potts. "You have chosen a path that will give you many opportunities to use those gifts to better yourselves, the Soldiers serving under you, and the nation you are defending."