This week, we’ve been thinking a great deal about our current national moment. And the vitality, especially in times like these, of the institutions of our Republic, and the good men and women that lead them. One of those good men, and if you ask us, among the best men — is Defense Secretary James Mattis. Today he sent a memo to all DoD staff reminding them what it means to hold the public trust, and reminding us why we have come to admire him. It’s not the first ethics memo from a Secretary of Defense, but it is written with the square-jawed integrity that is signature Mattis. We’ve reproduced it for you here.
MEMORANDUM FOR ALL DEPARTMENT EMPLOYEES
August 4, 2017
Re: Ethical Standards for All Hands
Those entrusted by our nation with carrying out violence, those entrusted with the lives of our troops, and those entrusted with enormous sums of taxpayer money must set an honorable example in all we do.
I expect every member of the Department to play the ethical midfield. I need you to be aggressive and show initiative without running the ethical sidelines, where even one missstep will have you out of bounds.
To ensure each of us is ready to do what is right, without hesitation, when ethical dilemmas arise, we must train and prepare ourselves and our subordinates. Our prior reflection and our choice to live by an ethical code will reinforce what we stand for, so we remain morally strong especially in the face of adversity.
Through our example and through coaching of all hands, we will ensure ethical standards are maintained. Never forget our willingness to take the oath of office and to accept the associated responsibilities means that even citizens who have never met us trust us to do the right thing, never abusing our position nor looking the other way when we see something wrong.
I am proud to serve alongside you.