A Shared Mission to Defend the Constitution
Spotlight on Michael Murray
Written by Josh Bailey
Ever since I was young I have dreamed of serving in the US Marine Corps. In many ways, my search for the rigor and discipline of the military led me to Hillsdale. As a sophomore this year, I am part of a Marine officers program and this past summer underwent the first phase of Officer Candidate School. All things considered, I am thrilled to spotlight a Lieutenant Colonel in the Marine Corps who works here at Hillsdale.
Lt. Col. Michael Murray’s interest in the military was rooted in his family heritage. No, military service was not a Murray family tradition. In fact, Michael’s father was an Irish immigrant. But preserving the freedoms that gave his father the opportunity to immigrate drove Michael to service in the armed forces.
Michael was accepted into the one-year Military Academy prep school but accepted admission to Albion College in Michigan instead, deferring his service. On the day of graduation, he accepted and signed a law contract with the Marine Corps and shipped out to Officers Candidate School (OCS) that summer. The week after graduating from OSC and accepting his commission as an officer, he left for law school, graduating three years later.
After another year of training, Michael moved to his first duty station in 29 Palms where he served as a judge advocate. Later he was relocated to University of Michigan to be a Marine Officer Instructor.
In 2001, then a Major, Michael switched to a reserves contract and activated several times in the following years. After deployment to Iraq in 2005, he returned to the reserves for three years as a judge advocate, then activated yet again in 2010 to work on the prosecution of four terrorists at Guantanamo Bay. Finishing the case, he returned to the reserves as an assistant to the counsel for the Commandant of the Marine Corps.
Several years ago while Michael was working in the private sector, one of his business associates suggested that he apply for a position that had opened at nearby Hillsdale College. When he looked up the College, Michael noted, “I was inspired by the mission statement, the focus on something bigger than the individual.”
He remembered asking during his interview whether the College would be supportive of his reserve duty. They responded with a definitive yes, and shortly after, he found out that he was a finalist for the position. After another interview, the College offered him the job, and he readily accepted it.
When I asked Michael what he looked for in a job as reservist, he responded, “I wanted to be somewhere where I felt like I was helping someone out, somewhere focused on mission accomplishment in a team environment.” Similar to the Marine Corps, Hillsdale has provided this mission for Michael. He drew this comparison himself, saying, “In many respects, I think the mission of the Marine Corps and Hillsdale are the same. They both support and defend the Constitution. Hillsdale does this by making good citizens—the Marine Corps through armed conflict.”
Building on his point, Michael shared his firm belief that Hillsdale accomplishes its mission through the liberal arts. Referencing our modern culture, Michael observed, “The liberal arts are important because there’s such an emphasis on specialization that people can’t see the forest through the trees. In the long run, they don’t have the critical thinking skills to function as a human being.” As Michael explained, this is because people “can’t understand who they are.”
He pointed out that this proves especially important in regard to our form of government.
“We live in a country that is an experiment in self-government,” he said. “The most successful experiment…but there’s a lot of evil and a lot of people who hate the idea of people being free…. It’s refreshing to be around people who love our country so much and are dedicated to preserving those founding principles.”
Hearing Michael articulate his passion to serve his country resonated deeply with me as a Hillsdale student and aspiring Marine officer. What better way to prepare to lead and fight for the freedom of self-government than by studying at a college that prides itself on teaching these principles through the liberal arts? Although most Hillsdale students will never take a bullet in the support and defense of the Constitution, they will nonetheless be equipped to provide a defense against all enemies, both foreign and domestic.
Josh Bailey, ’19, is a marketing major from the back roads of Iowa. A volunteer program leader, intramural athlete, and dedicated student, he can usually be found either busy with a project, sweating in the gym or buried in a book in the corner of the library. In his free time he enjoys adventurous shenanigans with the guys in his dorm.