Gilmore to Batten Students: Crisis Requires Calm Leadership

Former Governor Jim Gilmore

Former Gov. Jim Gilmore, who was in office during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, speaks to Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy students about the importance of calm leadership in a crisis, and for citizens to be more engaged in government. (Photo by Ryan Strand, Batten School)

September 12, 2023

Staying calm and delivering the right message for the moment are the hallmarks of leadership, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, who was the state’s top executive when terrorists flew a plane into the Pentagon in Arlington County 22 years ago, told Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy students on the anniversary of the attack.

Gilmore spoke about the lessons learned on that day. He told the packed room that he immediately set into motion emergency response protocols at the state and local levels, and then went to the Pentagon. He knew his presence at the site would send a message of resilience for the public.

Gilmore, who graduated from the University of Virginia with a bachelor’s degree and a law degree, was on Grounds Monday to teach a class and give a talk hosted by the National Security Policy Center at the Batten School.

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With Dean Ian Solomon posing a range of questions, Gilmore reflected on the preparedness of the U.S. for potential future attacks, the rise of authoritarianism globally and the war in Ukraine, which he sees as pivotal in global relations in the years to come.

Authoritarians have a vision of what the world should be, he said, and they use force to achieve it, but their main problem is the U.S. and its role as the model of democracy.

“The desire for freedom and liberty that so exemplifies the U.S. is in the hearts of everyone, and if we adhere to those values, then we will win,” he said.

Gilmore also talked about the ideals of public service and the duty of citizenship in the U.S., which he believes have declined over several decades. “Americans right now are an audience for Fox News, MSNBC, or CNN and other cable companies,” he said, urging people to move from audience to actors by seizing opportunities to be engaged in their communities.

Gilmore encouraged the students at Monday’s event to participate in strengthening democracy in the U.S. and around the world.

“You seem to be deciding to be a leader, that’s why you’re here at Batten,” he said. “It’s more than just an opportunity to engage, it’s a duty to lead.”

Media Contact

Cathryn McCue

Assistant Director of Communications Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy