Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria had an important message for U.S. Air Force AcademyÂ cadetsÂ atÂ a moment of crisis.
Five black cadet candidates at the academyâs preparatory school in Colorado SpringsÂ had found racial slurs written on the message boards on their doors.
Silveria,Â whoÂ took over as the schoolâsÂ superintendent in August,Â urged cadets toÂ reach forÂ theirÂ phones.
âI want you to videotape this so you have it, so you can use it â so that we all have the moral courage together,â he said, surrounded byÂ 1,500 of the academyâs faculty, administrators and athletic coaches.
âIf you canât treat someone with dignity and respect, get out.â
Silveriaâs forceful denunciation has been heardÂ far beyond the walls of the academy in Colorado,Â introducing theÂ veteran officer to aÂ national audience.
There is only one way to confront hatred and prejudice: head on. Well said, Lt. Gen Silveria. https://t.co/vQ2Aflo8Tx
â Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 29, 2017
â John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) September 29, 2017
âI wanted to have a direct conversation with them about the power of diversity,â Silveria told CNNâs Brooke Baldwin on Friday, referring to the cadets. âUltimately, these men and women are going to be lieutenantsÂ in the United States Air Force.â
Baldwin readÂ SilveriaÂ messages of support on Twitter and askedÂ him whether he believed Washington needed better leadership. He replied that his âmessage to the cadets was not about that.â
He said his speech was intended to show the cadets that they were all united âas an institution protecting these values.â
Security forces are looking into the matter, according to Lt. Col. Allen Herritage, a spokesman for the U.S. Air Force Academy.Â The preparatory school is designed for candidates who have shown leadership or other qualities that would make them strong applicants for the academy but who need to shore up their academic work before becoming cadets, Herritage said.
Silveria, who graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1985 with a bachelor of science degree, succeeded the academyâs first female superintendent, Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson.
In his 32-year career, Silveria has nearly 4,000 hours of flight time,Â including combat missions over Iraq and the Balkans, making him one of the Air Forceâs most experienced pilots, according to the Colorado SpringsÂ Gazette.
âWhen it came time to pick the next superintendent, Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria was the obvious choice,â Gen. David Goldfein, the branchâs chief of staff, said at Silveriaâs appointment ceremony, according to the Gazette. âI donât believe we have an officer serving in the Air Force today with more combat time, more joint credibility, or more operational understanding of the art of modern war.â
Shortly before the ceremony, Silveria,Â the Air Force Academyâs 20th superintendent, was promoted from major general to lieutenant general, the rank required for the position, the Gazette reported.
On Twitter, Silveria has been widely praised for his leadership, with some suggesting he should run for office one day.
This is what power, leadership, and advocacy looks likeâ¦. Excellent words from Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria! https://t.co/4BmjKZCYgx
â Colin Cole (@ColinCole91) September 29, 2017
Gen. Jay B. Silvera â LEADER, PATRIOT, AMERICANâ¦Yes, this is how it’s supposed to beâ¦take note. #SILVERA2020!!!
â Jeff (@sosorryworld) September 29, 2017
AÂ video of the speech on the Air Force Academyâs Facebook pageÂ has been viewed more than 1.7 million times, and a tweet of the same has beenÂ shared more than 22,000 times. Commenters praised the generalÂ for his leadership and unequivocal response: âThis is how you respond to racism in America.â
â U.S. Air Force (@usairforce) September 28, 2017
Susan SvrlugaÂ contributed to this report.