Retired U.S. Army Colonel David J. Clark served at the highest level of the U.S. military, requiring him to undergo rigorous and demanding training. He reflected on that Wednesday in a talk to St. Mary’s High School seniors as part of the school’s Catholic Schools Week celebration.
“I went through some tough training, with strict disciplinarians,” Clark said. “People who made sure you did everything right and if you didn’t, you did it over again. And I’m not talking about Green Berets or Army Rangers. I’m talking about the Sisters of Notre Dame.”
Clark, who graduated from St. Mary’s in 1977, shared his experiences with the 124 members of the Class of 2019 and some guests, including classmates Darlene Dorgan Clark, his wife, Paul Gaudet and Mary Ann Calnan.
“St. Mary’s was a game-changer for me,” he said, recalling the tough love bestowed upon the students at that time by the good Sisters. “My teachers and coaches were the ones who most influenced me. They showed me what right looked like.”
Clark went into the Army after graduating from Boston College and not knowing what he wanted to do with his life. It turned out to be a wise decision, as in his 30-year active duty career he earned the Bronze Star and several other medals, and had the opportunity to meet world figures such as St. Pope John Paul II and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Clark told the students they are “in a great situation to launch your special life from St. Mary’s.” He described a leader as “someone who can inspire people to do heroic things. The most common way leaders affect the world is through their own personal example,” he said.
Clark, who has earned three master’s degrees, currently serves as Director of Foreign Intelligence, tasked with daily briefing the Secretary of the Army and the Army Chief of Staff on what is going on in the world. Two of his children have followed his footsteps and joined the Army.