Alumni and Friends of VMI:
Cyber Corps Numbers: 535
Have You Ever Looked For The Right Phrase?:
The following letter to the editor was written by Pat Conroy,
author and Citadel graduate. I think he does a very good job of
describing how The Citadel differs from other schools. I know
I've had difficulty, at times, trying to articulate to others
what makes VMI so special. I think Mr. Conroy provides some good
Don't destroy the state's best college
Charleston Post & Courier
1/10/99 Pat Conroy
I recently read that Sen. Arthur Ravenel, a man I respect very much, has
proposed a merger of all the public colleges in Charleston into a single
university system. Sen. Ravenel seems to be strongly antagonistic lately
to my college, The Citadel, and his plan would effectively destroy my alma
mater. I will cheerfully and passionately stand in the senator's way on this
Though The Citadel can be a difficult place for outsiders to understand,its
place in South Carolina's history is sacrosanct and revered. It is a
military college of the first rank in a time when our nation needs more
military colleges, not less. The Citadel seems to be in a state of either
shock or depression after the recent debacle on the admission of women into
the corps. It seems to have lost its bearing and confidence. The old strut
and dash and roar have been lost in the shuffle of history. The Citadel
family seems inarticulate when it comes to the task of expressing the nature
of its own incomparable excellence. It seems to have forgotten the fact that
it is the best college in the state, by far, and one of the best in the country.
Harvard, Yale, Berkeley and colleges like them can offer better educations
than The Citadel, but they know nothing about the production of the whole
man, a Citadel concept that has now been expanded to include the whole
woman. They are not military colleges, these laboratories of leadership and
camaraderie and discipline. They cannot impart the extraordinary benefits
derived from a strict adherence to the military virtues.
In this time of strange corruption of ethics and values and standards, I
think The Citadel is the best place in the country for a young man or woman
to be. It is tough and structured and Spartan and wonderful. It requires
lion-hearted, fearless young men and women with great inner strength and
unshakable resolve. By entering the long gray line, they turn their backs on
what is soft and absurd and decadent about college life in America. By
becoming cadets and not just students, The Citadel will train them in the
arts of becoming citizen-soldiers in a society that desperately needs more
of them. By attending The Citadel, these young men and women join a proud and joyous family that has been tested by fire. It marks their singularity,
their shining difference. It makes a ringing statement that they are nothing
like the others, and it was as true in my generation as it is today.
I tell other writers that I meet in America that I received the best
education for a novelist in the history of our republic. In the barracks I
learned everything about the world I would need to know. When they tell me
about fraternity or sorority parties, I tell them of marching to the mess
hall every single morning of my life after reveille sounded at 0615 hours.
When they mention their class cuts at Vanderbilt or Duke or Cornell, I tell
them I never had a single cut in my four-year career, and I attended every
class I was signed up for every time it met except when I wasrepresenting
the Bulldogs on the basketball and baseball team.
While they were drinking beer and discussing literature, I could be foundin
my room during evening study period from 1930 hours to 2230 hours for five
days a week, for four straight years. When they grow nostalgic for the long
leisure hours of college life, I tell them about parades, Saturday morning
inspections, drill, the required weekly haircut, the spit-shined shoes, the
polished brass, the constant pressure that never let up once during the four
years I called myself a cadet. While they were learning about college life,
I was becoming a Citadel man, one of those who understand that discipline
and honor and devotion to duty are not just words, but ways of life and paths to wisdom.
At the center of The Citadel education, the rock that anchors its soul,
lies the Honor System. I found the Honor System simple and profound, majestic
and life-changing: You will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate anyone who
does. Those words struck me as beautiful then and even more beautiful
today. They provide the frame of cadet life, and the Honor Code is moveable
goods, and it travels with you all your life. It is the part of The Citadel
education that is deathless and not for sale. It is what you get at face
value when you meet the alumni of my college. Test us and it is part of
our DNA. It is our password against chaos and disorder, the mark of our
I would trust with my life what Ernest Hollings or Joe Riley or John
Palms or Claudius Watts told me. I would give the key to my house to Alvah
Chapman, Nugent Courvoisie, or Robert Jordan, the superb fantasy writer,
or Steve Buyer, the congressman from Indiana, or the lowest-ranking senior
private in last year's graduating class. I would entrust the contents of
my safety deposit box to Nancy Mace or Petra Lovetinska or any other
graduate of my college. The Citadel is not like any other college in the country.
It is one of a kind, and its utter uniqueness is both its rarity and lasting
In 1996 I accompanied President Bill Clinton and a delegation of 50
Americans to Ireland in an attempt to get the peace process started
again. It was my proudest moment as an American citizen. President Clinton
handled himself magnificently, and I thought my country could not be in better
hands. I was ecstatic when he won his two terms as president, and I
attended his last inaugural ball in Washington with the South Carolina Democrats.
As South Carolina knows, I am a white Southern liberal of the knee-jerk
variety, and I thought that Bill Clinton represented the best of my breed.
I was wrong. I was terribly, terribly wrong.
Because of my Citadel education, I cannot accept a president so comfortable
with lies, half-truths and evasions. This year has been agony for me as I
watched the politician I admired the most putresce before my eyes.
Because of the Honor Code, I believed the president about Gennifer Flowers, Paula
Jones, Kathleen Willey and Monica Lewinsky. I bought the whole package
not because I am naive, but because I am a Citadel man and cut my teeth in a
military society where our word was our bond and where our trust in each
other in the barracks was such that it was against the rules to lock our doors.
I learned lessons at The Citadel that my president did not learn at
Georgetown University, Oxford University, or Yale Law School. Until this
year, it never occurred to me I received a much finer education than Bill
Clinton. He knows little about honor, responsibility and character. The
Corps of Cadets at The Citadel is the best place in the country to learn all
you need to know about them.
I can see the high humor in me writing this letter. I have been the leading
critic of The Citadel in my college's history. There is no one even close in
second place. This has been extremely painful for me and has caused a rift
between my college and myself that may never be healed. It is based on the
perception that I hate The Citadel. I respectfully disagree. It is my simple
belief that I love the college more than anyone who ever lived, and I could
care less who agrees with me or does not. I hold The Citadel to the same
high standards she instilled in me while shaping me as a cadet. I have had
one great fight with my college and one fight only. Through the years, The
Citadel has been less than candid about the severity of the Plebe System.
They are solving that now, but I require the truth from my college as much
as I do from my president.
Sen. Ravenel is picking on my college, and I know an enemy of The Citadel
when I see one. His plan would destroy The Citadel as a military college.
Its glory lies in its being a military college. Our boys and girls are not
like your boys and girls. We think we are vastly superior, and it is the
source of both our strength and mystique.
In 1980 "The Lords of Discipline" came out and put up a Berlin Wall
between The Citadel and me. The book began with these words: I wear the ring. It
summed up everything I felt and thought about the dark miracle of my
college. You do not want these ring-bearers forming an Army in the field
against you, Sen. Ravenel. And believe me, senator, I know what I am
Nor do you want me on your case. If you do not think I would make a worthy
opponent, sir, I have some good-natured advice for you.
Ask The Citadel
VMI Basketball: Keydets have won three conference games in a row. They now stand 7 - 9 overall and 5 - 2 in the conference. Next up is Western Carolina tonight (at home) at 7:30.
VMI 58, Wofford 56
Demory sparks Keydets
Junior forward Aaron Demory shrugs off foul trouble to lead VMI to its
third straight Southern Conference victory.
By MARK BERMAN
THE ROANOKE TIMES
LEXINGTON -- Aaron Demory saved his best for last.
The junior power forward scored six of his team's final 10 points to
help VMI fend off Wofford 58-56 in a Southern Conference basketball game
Monday in front of 1,261 fans at Cameron Hall.
The Keydets (7-9 overall, 5-2 Southern) won their third straight
game. They remain in second place in the North Division, one-half game
behind Appalachian State (11-6, 6-2).
Demory played just eight minutes in the first half and 10 in the
second due to foul trouble. But he had all six of his second-half points
in the final 4:24, including a bucket and free throw that gave VMI the
lead for good with 2:05 left.
"I had a lot of fouls early, so I wasn't in too much and I couldn't
play as aggressive as I wanted,'' said Demory, who finished with nine
points and a team-high 11 rebounds. "In the end, we were just playing
like it was do or die. I had so many fouls that I was really rested at
the end. The other guys were pretty tired and I got that extra inch on
Wofford (5-9, 2-3) led 49-44 with 6:24 left, but VMI scored six
straight points to take its first lead of the game. Jason Bell scored
the first four points of the run, and Demory sank two free throws to put
the Keydets up 50-49 with 4:24 to go.
Down 53-51, VMI regained the lead when Demory brought the ball down
after a backdoor lob, went back up and scored, and then hit the ensuing
foul shot with 2:05 left. The Keydets led the rest of the way.
After Wofford's Rashane DeLoach missed a pair of free throws, VMI
point guard Andre Quarles sank two foul shots for a 56-53 cushion with
46 seconds left. Wofford's Alfred Forbes missed a 3-point attempt with
18 seconds to go. Demory got the rebound and hit one of two free throws
with 16 seconds remaining.
Wrestling and Swimming: Hey, there are other sports at VMI besides round ball. Thanks to Al for passing along the following.
I though the troops might like to know that the Wrestling Team beat JMU
handily this Past Friday at JMU. Also, the Swimming Team beat Howard
University on Sunday at VMI. So, with these two "minor" sports and the round
ball victory on Saturday, Old Mother I had something to celebrate.
Also, for the record. I met Vince Lombardi's Grandson in Lexington this past
weekend. It seems that he is going to be one of the assistant football
coaches at VMI. Do you think that some of the Lombardi magic might have been
passed down through the gene pool. If so we just might have hit the jackpot.
Al Miller '53
The Superintendent's Dog: I hear that a couple cadets (may have been Rats) were on the way back to barracks the other night from an up town excursion. Seems these individuals noticed the Supe's dog in the front yard of the Supe's residence. For whatever reason the dog (I the English bulldog variety) was spirited away to barracks where it was partially shaved, adorned with a phrase or two and placed atop the sentinel box. I hear tell that the dog looked upon the assembled masses in barracks with a rather scornful glare. For good reason. The dog has one of those electronic collars and apparently was receiving an electronic shock during the entire episode.
The dog has been returned to the VMI First Family and I guess is doing OK.
Nominating Committee: The Nominating Committee is beginning the process of soliciting nominations for the Alumni Association and the Board of Visitors. Harry Lee '47 (Richmond) is the committee chairman. I will provide my info later as to the nominating process but I understand that nominations for the Alumni Association should be provided no later than early March.
I have always encouraged VMI alumni to become more involved in the nomination process. If you have any ideas regarding good caliber candidates, get involved in the process and nominate 'em! If you'd like to contact Mr. Lee it would probably be best to contact him through the Alumni Association at 1-800-444-1839.
Hey, that's it for this week.
Yours in the Spirit,
RB Lane '75
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