Lt. Gen. Dave R. Palmer Accepts Andrew J. Goodpaster Prize

Lt. Gen. Dave R. Palmer Accepts Andrew J. Goodpaster Prize

Lt. General Dave R. Palmer accepted the Second Annual Andrew J. Goodpaster Prize at the Army and Navy Club in Washington, DC last night. The prize was followed by a lecture “Leaders of Character” given by General Palmer and enthusiastically received by the audience of nearly 100 distinguished guests.

After briefly discussing the honorable General Goodpaster, Palmer discussed his most recent book George Washington and Benedict Arnold: A Tale of Two Patriots. The book fit in well with the theme of the annual lecture. While briefly outlining the story of these two men, Palmer focused on how character made their legacies so different.

Washington and Arnold were both heroes after the Battle of Saratoga; Arnold was wounded in the battle. After mostly recovering, Arnold reported back to Washington at Valley Forge. Because he was unable to take command of a field position, Washington made him the military commander of Philadelphia.

At this point, General Palmer asked his audience a rhetorical question: Why do people ruin themselves? For money, power or sex. All three temptations lured Arnold. He met and married a woman, who was of a family with Loyalist connections. When the British offered him money and rank, Arnold was too weak to resist. He became a general for the British. After the war, he spent 15 years in England before passing away.

General Palmer noted that had Arnold had integrity, he would be in the rotunda, there would be towns and counties across the nation named in his honor. Instead he became a no-name with only two memorials dedicated to him. Both are nameless. One is at Saratoga, a stone carving with a left leg sticking out of a boot. One at West Point’s chapel where there is a plaque with a name, date of birth and death, and rank of each general during the Revolutionary War. Arnold’s plaque bears no name.

By contrast, General George Washington is one of the most celebrated and honored patriots and Presidents that America has ever known.

General Palmer went on to point out that like Arnold traitors are never happy or successful. No one likes a traitor, even if it is their own traitor. They become non-persons. They do not die; they just go away.

Finally General Palmer went on to stress the great need in America for Leaders of Character. He defined character as that indefinable something that is inside of us that no one can see but you can see the results of it or the results of the lack of it. It is composed of two parts. Knowledge of right and wrong, and action. Knowledge is taught by family, school, and work, essentially by those around you. Action is doing the harder right over the easier wrong even when people are not looking.

Palmer closed his book and his lecture with three words: Character is destiny. (Blogger’s note: This happens to fit right in with the meaning of the Latin word that destiny is derived from: to determine or resolve.)

The annual Andrew J. Goodpaster Prize is given by the American Veterans Center to a leader with character. General Goodpaster held a distinguished career. Among other positions, he served as a staff secretary for President Eisenhower and was the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. He was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross (the military’s second highest award for valor), the Silver Star, two Legions of Merit and two Purple Hearts.

General Dave R. Palmer has also held a distinguished career in the military, serving two tours of duty in Vietnam, eight years with combat arms unites in NATO and six years in Ft. Hood, Texas. He has also held positions as an advisor to the Vietnamese National Military Academy, Deputy Commandant at the Army Command and General Staff College, President of Walden University, and Superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point.

He is the author of several books: The Way of the Fox: American Strategy in the War for America, 1775-1783; Summons of the Trumpet: U.S. – Vietnam in Perspective; Washington: First in War; and George Washington and Benedict Arnold: a Tale of Two Patriots.

See pictures of the event.

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