As part of McNicholas High School’s annual Veterans Day celebration, Colonel Bill Butler, a McNick graduate of 1986, spoke to the McNick student body during a special morning assembly Nov. 11.
Butler spoke of teamwork, respect, discipline, and accountability, which are all traits he attributed to his years as a McNick student.
Mr. Jeff Mulvey, a current English teacher at McNick and friend and classmate of Butler, introduced him and pointed out how Butler was the left tackle while on the football team at McNick, a position responsible for protecting the quarterback. Mulvey compared this to how Butler continued on to protect the country by serving in the military. “I respect those who are willing to sacrifice everything [for our country],” Mulvey said.
To open his speech, Butler told of his deployment in Afghanistan and Iraq, followed by the four traits he learned at McNick that he’s used during his life, and ended with a collection of advice for the student body.
The first trait Butler spoke of was teamwork. “Very few things in life are going to fall exclusively on you as an individual. You will always be part of a team,” Butler said. He said that being on a team requires reliance on and bonding with teammates, and that he has personally remained friends with members of teams his been on throughout the years. He then related his high school football team to his military team by saying, “We succeeded as a team or we failed as a team.”
Butler then spoke of respect. In order to help bring peace to the countries where he was deployed, he had to learn to respect their cultures. He said that he looked to the Golden Rule, which he learned at McNick, for help in understanding and respecting cultures and principles that were so different than his own.
For the third trait of discipline, he said that his favorite teachers growing up were always the teachers who had specific demands of their students and had control of and disciplined their classroom. Butler said he followed these teachers’ examples and learned that he, too, had to know how to discipline while in a leadership role. He said if a member of a group causes trouble then the fault falls on the group’s leader, and because of this, leaders need to use discipline to keep their subordinates out of trouble and on task.
The final trait Butler spoke of was accountability. He connected accountability and discipline and said both are needed to command a large number of people. He said everyone must be accountable for their actions because everyone’s actions affects the entirety of the team.
Colonel Butler said that America has a special type of diversity; everyone is able to “respect their differences and treat them dignity.” He added that even though everyone has different beliefs, it doesn’t mean one is right and one is wrong; it simply means that they are different. “Everyone makes mistakes,” he said, and advised others to “be disciplined and always be responsible for your actions.”