Duty is something that we here at the Citadel pride ourselves on. It is something that we do our best to instill upon each and every year, through both the 4C system, and throughout the proceeding years. We strive to instill that value, because we realize, both on a personnel level, and as an institution how important that one value is. So much so that it's a definition in the guidon, and one we learn by heart.
General Lee's Quote on Duty can be found in every guidon, of that I can attest to. "Duty is the sublimest word in the English language. You should do your duty in all things. You can never do more. You should never wish to do less."
Duty cannot be rightfully explained. A gate guard can tell you that his duty is to prohibit unauthorized personnel from entering. He'd be right. Another may say that it's to ensure the safety of those inside. So would he. Duty does not have any definable limit, nor restriction. If you're a gate guard, and something happens outside the gate, a car accident, a seizure, someone needs help because they're lost. That's not specifically your duty. And yet when it is acted upon, duty automatically encompasses that act.
At the same time, you should never fail your duty. To do so is letting not only those that entrusted you with that duty down, it's also letting your integrity, and reputation crumble. Duty cannot be ignored, regardless. Do your duty. That is what you were chosen and ordered to do. Duty can extend for circumstances, or not at all. Duty is sublime.
You might not want to do your duty either. I know I didn't. I was called a week and a half before I was supposed to report back to The Citadel for the end of Summer Furlough. I wasn't expecting someone to ask if I could come down to fill in. One of my classmates didn't come back, and he was assigned rank, and was supposed to report back the day I was called. At the time, I was still working, it was late, and I couldn't do anything. I hadn't packed. I hadn't gotten my things together, and I know I hadn't told my parents, or my girlfriend. I told him if they needed someone I'd be there. I didn't think about it, I didn't question what I'd be getting into.
I reported back three days later. In three days I packed, collected everything (or most of it, I know I forgot something), told my parents, and girlfriend, and came back to The Citadel. I don't get to see my girlfriend much. She goes to a school three hours away, and neither of us have a lot of open weekends. I work all day, a ten hours shift that I leave for at five in the morning, and get back at seven. I'm not complaining. But I had an option in my choice. I could have stayed home another week or two, I already planned to take the week off and spend with them. And yet I gave it up, just because my classmate, asked.
Duty isn't restricted to a set of orders on a piece of paper. No matter what you do, it's not. Duty comes down to what you are willing to do, both for the institution you work for, and for those that ask it of you. If you asked me right now if I'd go back and see my girl. I wouldn't hesitate to do so. I wouldn't even pack. I'd just be gone. But I have a duty here. I have a job. And I will not abandon my post. I was asked, and while I didn't have to, I felt that it was my duty to do so. That's something The Citadel instilled in me. And I'm only a sophomore. That's one year of training, living and breathing the values The Citadel strives to teach each and every cadet.
I would have loved to stay home, sleep, kiss hug, laugh cut up and everything else under the sun with those that I love. But I came back. To the beloved (ha) mess hall, the roomy (funny right?) barracks, and everything that came with it. I can't give you a straight answer as to why. I certainly didn't want to. But... to put it simply.