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Col. Charles D. Allen
Military scholar

Col. Charles D. Allen

Colonel Charles D. Allen (U.S. Army, Ret.) is the Professor of Cultural Science in the Department of Command, Leadership, and Management at the U.S. Army War College.

The Highest Example

The natural extension of the heroics of the sea captain Richard Phillips is to carry this to other military contexts. The culture of our military institutions holds the commander responsible for all his unit does or fails to do. With that responsibility comes the expectation that the commander will accomplish the assigned missions by properly caring for those in his charge and to suffer the same coincidences in failure. Such was the case of Lieutenant General Jonathan Wainwright IV as the senior commander of the U.S. forces in the Philippines in World War II. After the fall of Bataan and faced with overwhelming Japanese forces at Corregidor, he surrendered his forces and became the highest ranking American prisoner of war.

There are other great leaders who are not part of hierarchies and do not have formally assigned power. Two such leaders were Mohandas Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Gandhi led the nation of India to independence from British rule. Dr. King challenged our country with a dream "that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'"

Both men sacrificed themselves and their personal interests for higher social and spiritual service that resulted in their ultimate sacrifice. Gandhi was killed by an extremist in January 1948 and Dr. King was assassinated in April 1968. Both leaders led from the front of their societies and nations, both exposed themselves to imminent dangers for extended periods of time, and both "took a bullet" for the cause they believed in--service to others.

By Col. Charles D. Allen

 |  April 17, 2009; 9:50 AM ET
Category:  Self-Sacrifice Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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