Honor First is the United States Border Patrol's motto and is an important part of its tradition and culture. It reflects upon the value of integrity that is shared by the organization and its members. Synonyms for integrity; honesty, good character, principle, ethics, morals, righteousness, virtue, decency, fairness, sincerity, truthfulness, trustworthiness - added together equal honor.
Honor First, both organizationally and individually, can be simply described as having integrity while constraining behaviors and actions to the boundaries defined by laws, regulations, directives, policies and rules, even when difficult to do so. Organizations and individuals that embody Honor First may inadvertently bump against those boundaries and will immediately self-correct. Organizations and individuals that do not embody Honor First, that have questionable integrity, will push against those boundaries without self-correcting.
The border patrol is a young man's organization; it appeals strongly to the lover of the big outdoors—the primeval forests, the sunparched deserts, the mountains, and the plains; the business upon which it is engaged calls for manhood, stamina, versatility, and resourcefulness in the highest degree. "Honor first" is its watchword; privations and danger but serve as a challenge which none refuses. Unfailing courtesy to all, and helpfulness to the helpless in distress, are emphasized above every other requisite. These young men are proud of their jobs—proud of their organization—with a code of ethics unsurpassed by any similar organization of this or any other day. In the three short years of its existence it has created a priceless store of traditions. The pride of these men in their organization is equaled only by the pride and esteem in which they are held by the communities in which they operate. Spontaneous testimonials of this esteem are being constantly received by the bureau. To an almost unbelievable extent the border patrol is self-governing. Its members must be left largely to their own devices and upon their honor. The weight of popular disapproval of his fellow officers is more potent with the erring one than all the printed regulations humanly possible to devise. The uniform is sacred; it not only symbolizes authority, the law's majesty and all the power of the Federal Government, but it entails obligations upon the wearer in the way of deportment which are intuitively recognized and scrupulously observed.
The Border Patrol trademarked the phrase Honor First on August 17, 2010 and renewed the trademark in 2019.
In a 1928 document from the San Antonio District (which encompasses modern day Rio Grande Valley, Laredo and Del Rio Sectors), there are 40 Suggestions that were written for the benefit of early Border Patrol Inspectors. Many of the suggestions speak directly to integrity.
In a Selection Letter from 1930 which was given to newly hired Border Patrol Inspectors in the El Paso District (which encompasses modern day Tucson, El Paso and Big Bend Sectors), Honor First was given as an organizational value and as its watch-word. Those new hires were instructed to “RESIGN NOW” if they couldn’t live up to the concept.
The Border Patrol prides itself on having Esprit de Corps. The definition below was developed by Border Patrol headquarters employees in 2016.
Esprit de Corps
The workplace climate resulting from a combination of organizational pride and employee morale.
Organizational pride is the positive feeling experienced by employees from being part of a meaningful team that is rich in history, tradition and culture.
Employee morale is the feeling experienced by employees based in part on their perception of being valued by the organization, fairly compensated and performing meaningful work.
Esprit de corps is reinforced through the shared goals, mission and values of the organization and its employees.
The definition turns Esprit de Corps into a simple formula and defines parts that comprise organizational pride and employee morale.
Esprit de Corps = Organizational Pride + Employee Morale
Esprit de Corps is the key to a healthy organization and engaged employees.
Honor First is foundational to the Border Patrol's organizational pride and integral to its Esprit de Corps.
All HonorFirst.com web pages and documents are copyright 2017 - 2021 by Ray Harris. All rights reserved. DISCLAIMER: HonorFirst.com is in no way affiliated with the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, or the US Border Patrol. The US Border Patrol is an equal opportunity employer.