The passion to enrich the training of the Cadets in good citizenship and ethics is still going strong 27 years later.
At a meeting in 1988, the Class of 1948 expressed concern about what they saw as a gradual deterioration in the moral and ethical standards in government (as in the Iran Contra and Watergate affairs) and the complication it posed for our officers. They strongly felt that our Academy graduates should have the best foundation possible in the humanities, government, integrity, ethics and political judgment, and must be good citizens, as well as good officers and leaders. The Class agreed that an Ethics Forum would supplement the excellent academic and professional training programs already in place.
1989 – Admiral Wetmore, the Class of 1948's representative, met with the Superintendent and the Forum was approved. The Class of '48 then established an endowment "to enrich the training of the cadets in good citizenship and ethics."
1990 – The first United States Coast Guard Academy Annual Ethics Forum was held in April of this year.
The 1990s – The forum grew to include keynote speakers and panels including the Junior Officer Panel and small group discussions. Speakers and panels were drawn from our service as well as our sister military services. Small group discussion facilitators from the Academy staff and faculty guided discussions on ethical issues of case studies presented to the groups as well as those issues addressed by speakers and panels. Funds were limited and time did not permit all cadets to participate.
2000 – The Academy set aside an Academic Day and dedicated it to the Ethics Forum so the entire corps could participate for the first time.
At the behest of Admiral Wetmore, the Class of 1957 joined the Class of 1948 in endowing the Ethics Forum simply stating "this is a good thing for us to do."
Additionally, Charlie Company assumed responsibility for the Ethics Forum from the Humanities Department, who remained as an advisory body.
2004 – Session speakers were added to the forum format and classroom sessions became a mainstay. Speakers were chosen due to their expertise in their fields and they addressed ethical issues they had experienced during their careers. Over time, subjects included the fields of legal, medical, engineering, intelligence collection, journalism, government, military, law enforcement, sports and others.
2007 – The Class of 1957 honored the memory of their classmate and 19th Commandant of the United States Coast Guard by renaming their endowment the Admiral J. William Kime Ethics Endowment. Admiral Wetmore honored the memories of his classmates Captains Virgil Rinehart and Robert Bosnak, both of whom made generous gifts to their class endowment.
2012 – The 23rd Ethics Forum was dedicated to the memory of Admiral Thomas Wetmore who embraced the vision of his class. Instrumental in securing the approval of the forum, in raising funds and for its growth for over 22 years, he shepherded it with pride, personally attending and participating each year since its inception. This year's Ethics Forum theme was "Emphasizing Ethics for the Enrichment of Future Leaders."
2017 – Admiral Thomas Wetmore exemplified everything the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Annual Ethics Forum teaches young leaders and, as of this year, this academic mainstay now bears his name: THE UNITED STATES COAST GUARD ACADEMY ADMIRAL THOMAS WETMORE ANNUAL ETHICS FORUM.