BY M. JUNAID ALAM
That was part of the message Gen. Arnold Gordon-Bray conveyed on Monday to Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp members at Francis Lewis High School, winners of the 2007 JROTC Academic Championship. Deputy commander of the national ROTC program and former adviser to the Iraqi ground force commander, Bray honed in on the importance of honor, integrity and loyalty at the five-hour leadership symposium, where he was joined by Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) in praising the youngsters for their service to the community.Both men also sought to draw links between JROTC's values and the legacy left by Martin Luther King Jr.”My wife told me that when I came here today I couldn't deliver one of my regular boring speeches,” Bray joked. Speaking of his own experience as an African-American in the military, the 6-foot-6 general continued, “I bring to my profession some differences, and that in turn brings out some differences of opinion. So I want to try to connect what some of what Dr. King said and make it relevant here.”Bray told stories about his ascent in the ranks, combat service and leadership experience to highlight the importance of core values of honesty and sincerity, which he said extended beyond the scope of military application. Recalling his role as an adviser in Iraq, he said, “some people questioned how smart the Iraqis were … but because we didn't speak Arabic and we didn't understand the culture, we didn't generate the respect we could have.”Bray said that even among some enemies, he had cultivated an atmosphere of respect. He also said that adhering to moral principles was more important than giving way to impulses, offering by way of example the killing of two soldiers under his command.”Some of my men wanted revenge. And they said, 'against Iraqis.' I had to rein them in and point out the old Iraqi women who were praying [for the fallen soldiers] and the other Iraqis who were coming forward with information, and say, 'You can't discriminate against an entire group.'”Liu, arriving late from a Brooklyn event commemorating Martin Luther King Jr., thanked Bray for coming to speak to the Flushing students and thanked the students themselves for showing up on a day their peers had off.”You're just starting out in your lives,” Liu said. “There is so much ahead of you …What is most important is the legacy you leave behind.”Reach reporter M. Junaid Alam by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300 Ext 174.