ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. – “I’ve been looking forward to this next speaker all morning,” Ben Stewart, teacher at Talton K. Stone Middle School in Elizabethtown addressed a theater of nearly 100 7th- and 8th-grade males.
“He has many accomplishments, countless awards, and has been to too many military schools to list,” he continued. “Gentlemen, it is my honor to introduce Command Sgt. Maj. Monty Drummond.”
Drummond, the senior enlisted leader of the 4-409th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Cavalry Multi-Functional Training Brigade at Fort Knox, stepped onto the stage prior to addressing the crowd, taking a breath.
“Gentlemen, thank you for having me. I’m here to tell you that there are so many options for you out there, but they take work, whichever you choose,” Drummond said.
The somewhat unruly crowd fell silent as Drummond took center stage, in awe of the soldier in standard Army combat uniform before them. When asked who among them were raised in military homes or were related to service members, about one-third raised their hands.
“I love to see that, because that means some of you have already felt what it means to serve. We do what we do to keep you safe. Never forget, freedom is not free.”
Drummond jovially engaged the crowd, asking them if they knew what “LDRSHIP,” the acronym used to remember the Army values, meant. When none could successfully answer, he gave a brief lesson on the core values, before asking who among them wished to become a Ranger, Special Forces or “Delta” soldier, or paratrooper.
He engaged one student who was able to describe the first point of performance for airborne operations.
“Proper exit, check body position, and count, Sir!” the young man exclaimed from the audience. Drummond invited him on stage as the rest of the crowd yelled that the student had cheated by searching for the answer on his phone.
“What do your teachers tell you to do every day? Do your proper research, right? It’s the same in the Army-always do your research so you know exactly what you’re talking about, even if it means having to admit you were wrong the first time,” Drummond explained before presenting the student with his challenge coin.
After briefly summarizing his own career, Drummond told the students that they would be faced with many choices throughout their lives and their educations, as well as setbacks.
“Maybe you won’t be able to afford going to college, or maybe you just won’t want to; that’s not the end of the world. We need highly motivated citizens like yourselves to join us. You’ll gain so much experience and education paid by the Army, and you get to travel the world and serve your country,” Drummond concluded.
“It’s been the greatest joy of my life to serve this nation in the Army, and it’s something I hope many of you will choose to do, too.”