CEDAR GROVE, N.J. -- Army Materiel Command’s top leader Gen. Ed Daly was honored with a Professional Achievement Award by his high school alma mater Oct. 14, recognizing his 33 years of military service and leadership.
Daly, accompanied by wife Cathy along with his mother and sister, was among nine inductees at the Saint Peter’s Preparatory School Hall of Fame induction ceremony, held in Cedar Grove, New Jersey. Daly’s award came in the Professional Achievement category, which recognizes St. Peter’s Prep alumni who go beyond what is professionally expected to make a tangible difference.
Calling the honorees a “phenomenal group of men of character,” Daly told the audience of more than 200 alumni and family members that St. Peter’s Prep was “the single most contributing factor in my formative years ... I would not be here today if it was not for this institution, the friends I met when I was here, and the great educators, past and present, whose voices still can be heard in the halls and classrooms, but also regularly resonate in our thoughts and minds in our more mature years. These great educators, overtly and subtlety, had us strive for perfection and only settle for excellence.”
The ceremony also celebrated 150 years of service and achievement for the school, which is located in Jersey City, New Jersey. Currently, the school has 910 students representing 130 communities.
Daly often credits his Jesuit values and upbringing in Jersey City for his success as one of only a dozen Army four-star generals. In a career defined by service as an Ordnance Corps officer, command roles in the U.S., Europe and Korea, and deployments in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, Daly’s Jesuit education strongly influenced his commitment to service leadership.
Daly’s late father, a Jersey City Police Officer, worked two additional jobs to pay the St. Peter’s Prep tuition because he believed “education transcends the classroom; it shatters barriers, produces purpose, presents opportunities and serves as a foundational core for life,” Daly said.
After graduating from Saint Peter’s Prep, Daly went on to commission from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1987 as a second lieutenant, and later obtained graduate degrees in business administration from Gonzaga University and in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College.
Daly described the world of ’83 as very different from that of today, saying it was a time defined by the Russians fighting in Afghanistan, President Ronald Reagan in office, the Dow Jones at 1,500, the average Jersey home costing $75,000, and Police and Michael Jackson at the top of the music charts.
But even with geo-political, economic and social changes, one thing that remains constant even today, he said, is that St. Peter’s Prep “continues to be one of the most respected institutions, vectored on purpose and grounded in the commitment to educating, influencing and developing young men of competence, character and conscience.”
Two of Daly’s values – the need to defend and fight for a cause; and the importance of being bound by a sense of camaraderie – remind him of the St. Peter’s Prep lessons related to the juxtaposition of English Literature and History in the recounting of the 1415 Battle of Agincourt, which took place during the Hundred Years’ War. History teaches that the French outnumbered the British by nearly three to one in a battle won by the British, while English Literature explains the success against such odds in a speech written many years later by playwright William Shakespeare and attributed to Henry V, known as the Saint Crispin’s Day Speech.
Daly said Henry V’s words, “we few, we happy few, we band of brothers…,” often remind him of school lessons that teach the meaning of dedication, thriving in tough environments, spirt and honor, and winning against tremendous odds.
Urging students in the audience to read the Saint Crispin’s Day Speech, Daly told them, “Your life’s journey and defining moments are now. Pay forward the educational investment being afforded to you. Go be great in whatever you do, if you understand your purpose and persevere, you can achieve anything…dream big and make your mark! Stay in Teddy Roosevelt’s proverbial arena and always fight for a cause and your beliefs.”