. . . . . . .

* * * * * * *

from Commencement Address to West Point, Ayn Rand, 1957

The army of a free country has a great responsibility: the right to use force, but not as an instrument of compulsion and brute conquest--as the armies of other countries have done in their histories--only as an instrument of a free nation's self-defense, which means: the defense of a man's individual rights. The principle of using force only in retaliation against those who initiate its use, is the principle of subordinating might to right. The highest integrity and sense of honor are required for such a task. 

No other army in the world has achieved it. You have. 
West Point has given America a long line of heroes, known and unknown. You, this year's graduates, have a glorious tradition to carry on--which I admire profoundly, not because it is a tradition, but because it is glorious. 

Since I came from a country guilty of the worst tyranny on earth, I am particularly able to appreciate the meaning, the greatness and the supreme value of that which you are defending. So, in my own name and in the name of many people who think as I do, I want to say, to all the men of West Point, past, present and future: Thank you. 

Poet X

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