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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Petraeus Apologizes for Affair

Former CIA director apologized for his extramarital affair in his first public speech since his resignation Tuesday at an event honoring USC's R.O.T.C. program.

Retired Army General David H. Petraeus honored USC's R.O.T.C. program and veteran initiatives at an annual dinner Tuesday night, while apologizing for his past and presenting his future.

Picture of David Petraeus from Creative Common
Picture of David Petraeus from Creative Common

"I am keenly aware that I am regarded in a different light now than I was a year ago," said Petraeus.  "I'm also keenly aware that the reason for my recent journey was my own doing."

This was his first public appearance since the scandal in November 2012 regarding his extramarital affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell.  A scandal that he cited as an "extremely poor judgment" and ultimately led to his resignation as the Director of Central Intelligence Agency.

While he used the opportunity to express remorse for those actions, he emphasized that the event had a more important focus.

"Tonight is not about me," said Petraeus. "It is about our veterans, the military, and your R.O.T.C. cadets and USC's impressive efforts to recognize and support them and their families."

He also used the opportunity to draw awareness to four major areas regarding veteran initiatives that he feels deserve attention.

Petraus said there should be more action of taking care of troops' families and helping wounded soldiers, including those that have suffered "unseen wounds," such as PTSD. He also advocate for helping former soldiers transition to the civilian world, which would he believes will not only help the soldier, but will also help society as a whole Recognizing veterans' service. 

"While our country continues to improve its support for and recognition of these and all our veterans and their families, we can and must do more," said Petraeus. 

Petraeus balanced these more serious remarks with lighthearted jokes, including a anti-UCLA joke, which needless to say was a hit with the audience.

"Perhaps my experience can be instructive to those who stumble or indeed fall as far as I did," said Petraeus. "One learns, after all, that life doesn't stop after such a mistake.  It can and must go on."

He ended his speech with the traditional USC saying, "fight on," which the audience enthusiastically echoed.

Given the context, the traditional phrase seemed oddly relevant and carried with it a new weight.

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