This week has been filled with an unusual amount of sadness, hurt, and confusion. I have struggled with understanding the actions of others and the motivation behind public servants. In the midst of this struggle, I noticed a framed copy of an excerpt from the Oath of the Athenian City-State that I keep on my desk. This copy was a gift from ICMA when I graduated from the Leadership ICMA program a number of years ago and is a treasured reminder of public service and citizenship.
The original Oath of the Athenian City-State was required in ancient Athens to become a citizen. The exact text of the oath has a number of translations. A later version, the Ephebic Oath, was sworn by men upon entering their second year and final year of training at the military academy, in which graduation was required to attain citizenship. The oath states both military and civil responsibility to one’s city.
This oath is used by a number of public service organizations and is inscribed on the wall at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.
The version on my desk reads:
We will ever strive for the ideals
and sacred things of the city,
both alone and with many;
We will unceasingly seek to quicken
the sense of public duty;
We will revere and obey the city’s laws;
We will transmit this city
not only not less,
but greater, better and more
beautiful than it
was transmitted to us.
I cannot think of more eloquent words to describe public service and the true meaning of citizenship. These are the words of a true public servant and a true citizen. The words are also a good reminder of the meaning behind our careers in public service and our responsibilities to our city.
It’s also a great chance for us at SGR to say, “Thank you!” to all of you as public servants, whether elected officials or employees, for your service to us all. We’re proud to be your partners in holding high the greatest aspirations of public service.
Executive Search Manager