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Gordon Liddy's Speech: Thanks to the VMI Public Information Office for providing the text of Gordon Liddy's speech. It follows.....

Virginia Military Institute
Commencement Exercises
May 15, 1999 - 11:00 a.m.
Cameron Hall

Commencement Remarks

G. Gordon Liddy

Gen. Bunting, Gen. Farrell, President Gottwald, distinguished guests, friends and enemies in the faculty and members of the Class of 1999. It is wonderful to be back here at VMI. I remember well how much I enjoyed it in 1987. It is one thing to be asked to address a distinguished Institution such as this, but to be asked back is indeed an honor and a privilege and I thank you for that.

Well look at you… you have done it… you are good to go and ready to launch and you have got the faculty in the rear with a great gear, and that is just exactly where you have always wanted them, and there they are. Now I want to tell you that I really feel comfortable up here on this stage, and there is a good reason for that. I am totally outranked. The highest grade I ever obtained was First Lieutenant of Artillery, and for that reason, I feel very much at home because I happen to have five children, including one each, a reserve captain in the United States Army Nurse Corps, Reserve Captain in the United States Marine Corps, Reserve Major in the United States Marine Corps, and Career Lieutenant Commander of the United States Navy Seals. Every one of them outranks me, and boy do they make it plain to me that they do. So I am very comfortable up here, and I want to address the first part of my remarks to those of you who have chosen to become commissioned officers in the United States Armed Forces. First of all, congratulations, you are desperately needed. The Armed Forces of the United States are hemorrhaging officers and enlisted personnel, and it is because the Armed Forces of the United States have been the subject of neglect and being taken for granted for years now. Because, unfortunately, the world and this country is not as it was when I was a young man. When I was a young man, every other male you would meet was a veteran of the Armed Forces of the United States. The President was a five-star… they all knew which end of the tube the round came out, and now you have a commander and chief with no military experience… Secretary of Defense no military experience, Secretary of State no military experience, National Security Advisor no military experience. No wonder they don't know what they are doing.

I hope Cadet Clark will excuse me, but I am going to take issue with him on something and for that matter with Gen. Gavin. He said, "you are survivors and those who remained alive after World War II were survivors." No, they didn't survive the war… there were Germans and Japanese walking around alive who survived the war. Our guys won the war. They prevailed. That is the problem with this situation ongoing right now. The national leadership on both sides of the aisle want to survive the war… they don't want to win it that is the problem. Anybody that knows anything about the military knows that no war is ever won without the infantry of one side occupying and holding the land of the other. Air war is great. It can do lots of things for you in support, but it is infantry, armor and artillery that wins. Now to those of you who are taking commission, I want to say something very important to you. In hard times like these, your brother officers often become discouraged, and they leave the service. That is a big mistake. Because in times like these is when you are most needed… when your knowledge is most needed… when your counsel is most needed. I had a classmate of mine, brilliant, Fulbright Scholarship guy… went into the Navy… did it all, professor at Annapolis, commanded a flotilla as a commander off Viet Nam, made 06 in nineteen years six months. But it was in the Carter administration, and he became discouraged, and I said don't leave. They are going to have to do something to fix it. You will be a synch for flag. And he did not believe me, and he left, and in came Ronald Reagon and he rebuilt the Navy… the whole armed forces…, and he wasn't there. Don't do that. Do not become discouraged.

There is something else I want to say to those who are going to be in the Armed Forces of the United States. First of all, the posse comitatus statues were enacted for a very good reason. It was to keep the Armed Forces of the United States out of law enforcement because your training is completely different from that of law enforcement officers. Your job is to as quickly and efficiently as you possibly kill people and blow things up. You are not trained to say halt Federal officer let me read you your rights and bla bla bla and things like that. That is law enforcements job and when you mix those two up it is a disaster. Delta Force was present in an advisory capacity they say at Waco. We cannot have anymore of that. There you had an administration terrified by the idea that fundamentalist Christians have guns. I would remind you that this country was founded by fundamentalist Christians with guns.

Now you are taught here to accept personal responsibility and accountability. You are not taught when a failure of yours is pointed out to you to point the finger and make excuses or anything like that. But that is what goes on in this country. You had two young men who were evil, bad people, they did something very bad. Nobody is blaming them, but blaming their parents, they're blaming the community, they're blaming the police and they're blaming an inanimate object, a firearm. Don't do that. Don't allow yourself to be drawn into turning your guns on the American people. Don't do that.

Alright, the next thing I want to say is to all of you because those of you who are not having a career in the United States Armed Forces, by virtue, I would say of the superb education and training you have received here, you will continue to rise. You are the cream.
You will rise to the top and you will probably participate in our government and your counsel will be sought also. So to both of you I say do not subscribe to a prevalent malady in this country. And that is the deliberate misuse of language in an effort to deny reality. Let's think about it now. You have no longer any poor. There are no longer underprivileged which is an oxymoron. You cannot buy a used car. It is always a previously owned vehicle. I was in nine prisons not one of them was ever called a prison. Some of them were referred to as penitentiaries although I never found anyone there who was penitent, certainly not I.

Say what you mean and mean what you say. I knew I was coming into friendly territory when as I was driving down here on Route 81-64, I saw a big sign that said Virginia School of the Blind and Deaf, and I said hooray…they didn't say that they were vision and hearing impaired. There is a practical reason for that too and that is because precision and clarity in the use of language leads to precision and clarity of thought. All thought is a conversation with yourself. If I did not think about what I was going to say to you here today, I could not and if I did not do it in a clearly precise way I could not speak to you clearly and precisely. Don't fall into that bad habit. The English language is a magnificent language. Use it. Use it when you think and use it when you counsel.

I want to say a word about character because that is what VMI is all about. Sometimes people get the idea well you go to a place such as VMI and your character formed and that is it. No it is not. Heraculatis, five hundred years before the birth of Christ, said character is destiny, and indeed it is. It is formed by a series of choices. Correct moral choices. All of your life you will be faced with choices, and how do you go about building your character, maintaining your character. Well there is a formula that I want to offer to you. What you think about you will do, and what you do you will become. Let me give you an example, you take a young man with a flair such as you all probably have for mathematics. He gets his education, and he is drawn naturally let us say to the banking industry, and there he is in the bank and he sees all of this sea of green currency going by, and he says you know, I am a smart guy, and I know they have got bank examiners and state bank examiners and internal controls. But, I will bet you that if I just think about it long enough, I will be able to skim a little of that off for myself and they will never realize. And he thinks and thinks, and no, they have got controllers, and finally one day in the shower, eureka he thinks of it and he does it and what does he becomes a thief. On the other hand you have a young girl, a teenager born into unimaginable poverty… filth, disease, etc. No education whatsoever, no prospects of any. Absolutely nothing going for her, and she thinks to herself surely even someone such as I if I just think about it enough… I will be able to do something to alleviate this suffering, and she thinks, and she thinks, and she thinks and finally she comes up with something, and she does it and what does she become, Mother Theresa. What you think about you do, and what you do you become.

Now I want to take on another issue. Women. The issue of women in VMI is closed . The issue of women in the Armed Forces is open for debate. Now, there are very few advantages to being my age, but one of them is that I can remember very well the second World War. I was fifteen years old when it ended, and I can tell you that women played a hugely important role there, including all of the branches of the Armed Forces. There is nothing wrong with that concept, what is wrong is the execution of it. They took the women whom they needed desperately to do what… they had a saying… free a man to fight … that was the mach word. Then they had the woman's army corps, the waves, the wacs for the Air Force. They were billeted separately. They had their own officers and noncoms. They were trained separately, and they did non-combat work. That was vital, and they did it splendidly. I don't have any problem with that. The problem is they did it right then. It wasn't broken, but we fixed it. When you are rising to higher ranks if you are in the military or when you are in positions of leadership in this country, remember that and understand it. Put it back right.

There is something else I want to talk about and that has to do with God. I am not going to give you a religious lecture at all, but I want to give you a little bit of advice. I don't care what your religious denomination is. Everyone who believes in God defines God as an infinite being, and everyone who is not a megalomaniac understands that we are finite beings, limited. What does that mean? It is anti-logical to suppose that the finite can apprehend the infinite. What does that mean? It means you cannot understand the mind of God. You will look around you constantly in this world, and you will see inequities, you will see evil, you will see terrible things, you will see wonderful things, and you will be tempted to say God, I don't understand how you can possibly allow this and possibly let that happen and so on. No you can't. Nor will you ever, unless and until you join him, because you are finite so do not drive yourself crazy and waste your psyche energy arguing with God and trying to figure him out. It shall be in vain. God is to be worshipped, adored and obeyed according to the dictates of your conscience, but not understood.

Here is something else. It has to do with your prayer. Prayer is by definition… talking with God but be careful when you do that that you do not annoy God. Now how would you do that? Don't get down on your knees and say… let's say… you are now working for Ford Motor Company. Lord, let us take ten percent market share from General Motors. Now think about it for a minute. Why would God do that? First of all, implicit in that prayer is the concept that you at Ford Motor are more righteous in the eyes of God and more deserving of his favor than those of General Motors. The last time I heard that was a decision for God alone to take. You start usurping his functions then he is going to become annoyed. Do not put him in a conflict of interest because annoying God is a bad career move. You want ten percent market share…go out, work hard and earn ten percent market share. Leave God out of it.

Finally, leadership and character... You lead best by example, and your character will constantly be tested, and you never know what is around the corner tomorrow. I am going to leave you with a true story, and I would suggest that you would try to immolate it. Ten years ago, there was a young first lieutenant of the Marines who was a platoon leader in Panama. This was prior to the invasion, and it was kept hushed up, but there was of course combat going on down by the tank farms, there in the jungle between the Marines. They would go out and patrol and they would meet up with some Cuban SPETSNAZ and what have you. And the Cubans would leave booby traps… explosives… There were no EOD personnel down there not one. Nobody had EOD training... Explosive ordinance disposal for the descriptive civilians.

By the way, I do want to mention… I will catch hell when I get home if I don't mention the fact I have five children, and I do have one civilian daughter somehow I failed that girl.

But the orders of the Marine patrols was that if you come across one of these devices to dismantle it because if you leave it there the next patrol might not see it, and it might kill them. So this particular patrol discovered one, and the corporal said, well I will work on it sir, and he started, and the officer said no don't do that, get everybody back out of the way. None of you have any EOD training, nor do I. I will do it, and he did it and it blew. It took off his face. It took off the flesh of his arms and hands, and they thought he was going to die. But he was medivaced to a splendid place I hope you never see, the United States Army Burn Unit down in San Antonio. People come from all over the world, civilians, military, everybody there… they are so good. Now you cannot visit down there until afternoon, because the burn victims before noon have to be scrubbed. That seared flesh has to be scrubbed off the dying flesh with a thistle brush every day, and they don't want anybody to hear that because they scream. They scream so badly that the nurses sometimes burst into tears and run out, and they are told… it is okay to scream… everybody screams. Now, this was an Army place, but it just happened that there were thirteen enlisted Marine survivors of a helicopter crash in Korea… badly burnt… but they lived. All the rest of their outfit including their officer died, and they were pretty well along in their treatment, and they were getting pretty feisty because they were Marines and this was an Army outfit, and the Army was having a problem handling them. Well when they bring a guy in - a new guy in, they don't know who he is because he is all swabbed up like a mummy. Usually like hanging on a cross. And they brought this new man in and they took him in to be scrubbed, and they all braced themselves for the screams. And to their astonishment, there wasn't a sound, and the Marines went to the Army people and they said, "who is that man who did not make a sound"? And they said that man is a Marine officer. Right away, they had a new officer and there were no more problems from the Marines. That my friend is leadership and that is character. God Bless You.

It is good to be back, and I hope some day you will invite me again.

Update on VMI Matters of Legal Interest:

Judge backpedals: VMI must report efforts on women

Because the military school has done a good job of admitting women, the federal government won't gain more power to oversee the institution.


   Virginia Military Institute will remain under U.S. Justice Department scrutiny, but the integration of women at the college will not be micro-managed by the federal government, a judge ruled Friday.

    U.S. District Judge Jackson Kiser reversed his own decision to release VMI from filing regular progress reports on the assimilation of women into its ranks.

    In January, Kiser granted a motion by VMI to dismiss the original suit against the college over its all-male admissions policy. That would have released administrators from reporting to the Justice Department about the integration of women. The Justice Department objected immediately.

    Kiser acknowledged the Justice Department's argument that it's too early to say if the Lexington college has successfully completed the transition to coeducation.

    But he declined to give the government more power to oversee VMI, as it had requested.

    "The government would have me allow the Department of ustice to micro-manage the integration of women at the school," Kiser wrote in the opinion accompanying his order. But that is unnecessary, he wrote, because VMI has done a "thoughtful and professional job" of admitting women.

    Kiser gave VMI Superintendent Josiah Bunting III much of the credit for VMI's success so far. "He was charged with a difficult task and has set a fine example of the leadership that VMI seeks to instill in its graduates," Kiser said in his opinion.

    In VMI's six-year battle to remain all-male, Kiser repeatedly ruled in favor of the institute. The Justice Department sued the state-supported school over its admissions policies, taking the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned Kiser's ruling and called the admissions policy unconstitutional. VMI admitted women in 1997.

Cyber Corps Shirts and Caps: Stay tuned. We're moving along on bringing the Cyber Corps wear into production. In all likelihood the next update will provide details, proces, etc. for Cyber Corps polo shirts, t-shirts (silk screened) and baseball caps. Be the first in your neighborhood to possess one of these heirlooms. All Cyber Corps products are being sold on a zero profit basis.

That's it for this week.

RB Lane '75

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