Establishment of values stems from family

  • Published
  • By Maj. Sean Martin
  • 71st Flying Training Wing, Chief, Wing Plans and Programs
Writing a commentary reminds me of a project that I was assigned when I was "grounded" for not living by the Martin family rules. I was given an "opportunity" by my parents to write three 500 word essays. The subjects of each of these essays were: Integrity, Responsibility, and Obedience.

A few years ago after my parents were convinced that I was out of the house for good and wouldn't be moving back in with them, I received in the mail a collection of neatly handwritten 500 word essays. It felt good to see these essays again because I put a fair amount of work into them (at least, it was a lot of work back then). I thought these essays would be a good commentary topic as long as others got some laughs at the expense of my childhood.

We readily notice the words "Integrity First-Service Before Self-Excellence In All We Do" in any Air Force literature whenever we are estimating the "pain factor" or value gained by reading it. Clearly, we see the Air Force puts value in establishing what is important within its organization through the frequent mention of the core values. This establishment of values is also important in large civilian companies like IBM, as well as something as fundamental as a family. My parents felt that I had strayed from what was important on a couple of occasions, and that I needed some quality time to think about it.

As a kid I felt my essay "taskers" were the worst part of my multifaceted punishment. There were a couple of obstacles to getting them accomplished. Webster's Dictionary only had a paragraph's worth of definition for each of these words, the encyclopedia was not going to help and the essay had to be neatly handwritten. This was a tough task because I was the last kid in my third grade class allowed to use a pen, and when I finally was allowed to use a pen, it was only out of pity.

Below are some of the more amusing excerpts of essays composed by a twelve year old:

On integrity: Integrity takes a while to achieve; it doesn't just come to you.

This primary core value of the Air Force is the keystone to all others. It was evident when I was growing up my parents felt the same. Apparently, I deduced trust is not earned right away. In the Air Force and most corporations, there are time and distance constraints which require members to trust each other implicitly. Experience, security clearances, evaluations, promotions and job placements are the key signals used to help paint a picture of who has earned trust over time. Air Force members who fail to exhibit integrity face far more serious consequences than a 500 word essay.