Service and Leadership: Lessons ring true 44 years later
|This in the second in an occasional series highlighting the unique educational environment at The Citadel. "Service and Leadership" will profile people and events that exemplify "The Citadel Experience," its leadership laboratory and the college's mission of achieving excellence in the education of principled leaders.|
Forty-four years after he graduated from The Citadel, the leadership lessons Ben Legare learned as a cadet remain steadfast.
Fresh faced and right out of high school it was not hard to adapt to the unique educational environment characterized by strict discipline and structure and military customs and courtesies. Life in 1959, after all, was very different than it is for today’s college students.
“We were more disciplined because of the way society was then. We did not question authority when we were young as young people do today,” Legare said. “So I think we adapted to the system better than some kids do today.”
What has not changed, however, and the thing Legare carried with him after graduating and into a 20-year stint as an Army officer, is a legacy of integrity that a Citadel education fosters – a unique education in a unique environment where service and leadership are cornerstones to building leaders for today and the future.
The Citadel’s unique educational environment and leadership focus is what sets the institution apart from other South Carolina colleges and universities, and most other institutions in the nation.
“When you say you are a Citadel graduate there is an expectation that you will maintain the highest level of integrity in your personal life and your business life.”
A Charleston native, Legare comes from a family of Citadel graduates. He graduated from The Citadel in 1963. He was both an enlisted man and officer in the Army, serving with a Presidential Honor Guard, as a platoon leader and tactics and leadership instructor. Legare returned to The Citadel in 1982 as director of public affairs. He saw the college through some of its most tumultuous times, including the admission of women in the Corps of Cadets and the release of the movie “Lords of Discipline,” a fictional story based on author Pat Conroy’s experiences as a cadet. Conroy graduated in 1967.
In 1992 Legare was promoted to director of development and governmental affairs. He held that position, under various titles in the years that followed. In June 2007 he retired as assistant to the president for governmental affairs and director of community affairs. He represented The Citadel before the General Assembly and with The Citadel’s Charleston neighbors and governmental groups.
In late August, Legare was presented with the Order of the Palmetto, the state highest civilian award for extraordinary lifetime achievement and service to the state and nation.
Read a complete biography of Legare
Legare’s leadership goes beyond Lesesne Gate. He has served on the Charleston Crime Stoppers board, American Association of State Colleges and Universities Public Information Advisory Committee, was President of the Charleston Breakfast Rotary Club and the Charleston Country Club board. Among his military awards and decorations are the Silver Star, the Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star, and Meritorious Service Medal with cluster and Army Commendation medal. He is paratrooper qualified.
Legare retired from The Citadel in July 2007. He is now works for the Charleston Junior Golf Foundation, a national organization committed to teaching life skills such as honest, integrity and perseverance through the game of golf to children from diverse backgrounds.
He is devoting himself full-time to that endeavor but plans to take with him the adage that respect is integral to being a principled leader.
“I realized as a cadet that not all leaders gained the respect of their subordinates. I promised myself that I would try to earn the respect of my peers and subordinates after I graduated whatever vocation I went into. Respect is learned and respect is earned. It doesn’t come by way of your position in life.”
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