Al Gray Civic Institute

A Firm Foundation For The Future

OUR MISSION

The fundamental mission of Al Gray Civic Institute is to sustain the ideals that are the foundation of our nation and to build principled, committed citizens.

Commander’s Intent

For more than 2,000 years, thinkers in the West have understood that in order for a people to govern themselves, they must be virtuous. In this tradition there are four cardinal virtues that identify a well-developed person: wisdom, courage, prudence, and justice. Since 1775, the United States Marine Corps has been integral to the security of our country, and integral to the mission of the Corps are the virtues of honor, courage, and commitment. We find in the Marines’ understanding of honor the fullness of the cardinal virtues that define not just a well-formed Marine, but a well-formed person and citizen.  

The histories of the Marine Corps and of the United States Navy are graced with a wealth of examples of these virtues in action. This history is worthy of remembrance and respect, but in a time when there is a disagreement among Americans about what is virtuous, the example of our Marines and Sailors is particularly important. Carolina Museum of the Marine is dedicated to remembering and honoring the many achievements of Carolina Marines and Sailors, and to bringing those achievements to the American public as guides to the recovery of virtuous citizenship in America. 

The English writer G.K. Chesterton famously wrote that “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” In recent years, long-standing problems in our society have become acute, causing some to question the meaning of America and its place in the world. While these problems are now widely discussed, their causes are in dispute. If we consider the seeming ease with which people of all political persuasions are made to accept as true ideas that are clearly not true, and try to trace this phenomenon to its source, we come face-to-face with the problems of education.  

If we are preparing our young people to live responsible and rewarding lives that contribute to the well-being of our communities, we must teach them how to think. People who cannot think competently and critically are susceptible to errors that are all too prevalent and so easily identifiable. It is also the case that a people who do not honestly and accurately understand their history are like an individual who has lost his memory: they no longer know who they are. 

While the problems of education do not capture completely the sources of our present troubles, they are important contributors. Unfortunately, study after study shows that Civics education in the United States has become both less available and less effective when it is taught.  This is why the Al Gray Civic Institute at Carolina Museum of the Marine is committed to teaching Americans to think competently and to approach our history with honesty and care. Clear thinking and careful preservation of history are critical elements of a society worthy of devotion and defense, for these disciplines are necessary to the preservation of a shared and valued way of life. Disentangling errors in understanding can be difficult, but most things worth doing are challenging. We wish to see ever more Americans come together to restore mutual respect, civil political discourse and social cooperation that are defining marks of a people worthy of freedom.

Warm Regards and Semper Fidelis,

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General Al Gray, USMC (Ret)
Executive Board Member
Institute Founder

EDUCATING FUTURE LEADERS

History of Al Gray Civic Institute

Al Gray Civic institute, named after its founder, General Al Gray, USMC (Ret), was established in 2021, and is committed to the education of individuals of all ages.  The curriculum is designed to educate well-rounded individuals capable of independent and critical thought with an in depth factual understanding of civics and the core values of our nation.

We believe that America, though not perfect, should continually strive to be a beacon of hope, the city on the hill to all.  We believe it is not our government as an entity that will achieve this, but instead, a well prepared citizen, committed first to holding themselves to a higher standard, then to upholding their civic responsibility.

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HONOR. COURAGE. COMMITMENT

Our Fundamental Principles

For more than 2,000 years, thinkers in the West have understood that in order for a people to govern themselves, they must be virtuous. In this tradition there are four cardinal virtues that identify a well-developed person: wisdom, courage, prudence, and justice. 

Since 1775, the United States Marine Corps has been integral to the security of our country. Integral to the mission of the Corps are the virtues of honor, courage, and commitment. A Marine’s understanding of these virtues define not just a well-formed Marine, but a well-formed citizen. Our team created Al Gray Civic Institute to better equip citizens. In understanding the history of our nation, we are creating the future leaders, and responsible citizens. 

Our Civic Institute is developing and offering courses and resources that equip citizens to:  

  • Understand the concepts and ideals upon which our nation was founded,
  • Appreciate the history of our nation empowered by private energies and public responsibilities,
  • Develop critical thinking skills that support civil discourse and effective civic participation,
  • Recognize and respect our differences while valuing what we all have in common as Americans,
  • Celebrate our enduring form of government and the individual freedoms that make it possible.
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WHAT WE TEACH

Educational Goals

Al Gray Civic Institute is developing and offering courses and resources that equip citizens to:

  • Developing the skills of thinking, including understanding the structure of arguments and counterarguments, types of reasoning, logical fallacies, and the importance of worldview to thinking and understanding, 
  • Recognizing the right of each person to think and speak for him- or herself, to engage in conversation and debate honestly and with the intention to listen to others in order to understand them as they wish to be understood, 
  • Seeking to understand our history from the original documents that are our best evidence for what happened in the past and why, so that Americans can engage one another seriously and honestly, 
  • Understanding the form of government established in our Constitution, and how to interpret the Constitution starting from the Tenth Amendment, which Thomas Jefferson contended was the key to grasping the nature of our American federated republic, 
  • Instilling in Americans a renewed love of liberty and the importance to liberty of private property rights and the value of free markets and how they work. In pursuit of this, we wish to introduce Americans to virtue, without which our Founders held freedom and happiness to be impossible, and what this means for how we conduct ourselves at home, at school, and at work, 
  • Reminding Americans that a rich and happy life involves training our bodies as well as our minds and providing ample opportunities for both.  

AL GRAY CIVIC INSTITUTE COURSES

  • The Art of Thinking:  How to Think, Not What to Think
  • The Founding Principles of the United States
  • Understanding the American Constitution
  • Intro to Political and Economic Thought
  • Ethics at Home, School, and Work

COURSE OVERVIEW

About “The Art of Thinking: How to Think, Not What to Think” Course

This critical thinking course is the flagship course of Al Gray Civic Institute.  It is an in-depth study of how to think, not what to think and incorporates strategies and lessons that guide Marines.  The course is designed to help the student build a solid foundation of core personal values that allow the individual to assimilate facts, make well-reasoned decisions, and communicate clearly and effectively. This prepares individuals to stay the course throughout the winds of change in their lives.

The fundamental mission of Al Gray Civic Institute is to sustain the ideals that are the foundation of our nation and to build principled committed citizens. If we are preparing young people to live responsible and rewarding lives that contribute to the well-being of our society, we must teach them how to think independently. People who cannot think completely and critically are susceptible to errors that are all too prevalent. It is inevitable that we will all face trials and tribulations; we may not always agree with our neighbor, or understand why they think the way they do, but we can come to civil discourse through independent thinking. 

By learning how to think critically, individuals will establish themselves and will have a better understanding of how to come to a consensus rather than ‘winning an argument.’ We believe that all Americans are entitled to their thoughts and values, and we strive to help individuals come to those conclusions. Through understanding our nation’s history, we can better understand the facts, and discover how to best serve our society. In doing so, we can inspire future leaders and responsible citizens.

Clear thinking and careful preservation of history.

CHOOSE THE WAY TO TAKE OUR COURSES

Think competently and approach our history with honesty and care.  Are you ready to learn more? Our team offers independent thinking courses and more. Sign up in person, online, or for group training.