Remarks at Commissioning Ceremony
General J.H. Binford Peay, III Superintendant
15 May 2009
Good morning. On behalf of Mr. Slater and the VMI Board of Visitors, General Bissell and Mary Baldwin College, and the entire VMI community, I welcome and thank you for joining us at the Institute today to witness this important commissioning ceremony marking the transition of these young men and women from the life of a cadet and student to that of an officer in the Armed Forces of the United States of America. I also want to extend my warmest welcome to the proud families and friends of those who are about to receive commissions and the symbols of their new rank. And, I also welcome the faculty and staff and members of the VMI Corps of Cadets.
National Security requirements at the Pentagon last evening, and foggy weather this morning, “regretfully” have altered our program…and, with the exception of General Flynn, our commissioning officers…as depicted in your program…and their replacements could not be with us this morning. Never-the-less, this will still be a great day.
I am pleased that Lieutenant General Flynn, a graduate of the United States Naval Academy with nearly 35 years of service, and currently Commanding General of the United States Marine Corps Combat Development Command at Quantico could be with us, and he will be formally introduced shortly, and serve as our “principal speaker” this morning. General Flynn thank you and your family for your many years of service to the nation.
I would like to begin this ceremony by inviting our professors of military science and their staffs to stand and receive our expression of thanks for the inspiring work they have done in teaching and mentoring the young men and women who will be commissioned this morning. (Applause)…And, now I ask that all of our veterans stand…cadets, staff, faculty, and others from past wars, in attendance today, …and receive our thanks…
Officership is a serious responsibility, and it is a responsibility for which VMI has been preparing you for the past four years. We have stressed that a cadet must be at his or her best at all times…an officer, too, must be at his or her best at all times – always on duty – always on parade – always an example to others. The lives of your soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines…and coast guardsmen…are directly affected by your professionalism as well as your courage.
Officership is also a “life of adventure”…, new experiences, growth, and personal fulfillment. Forty-seven years ago, I sat in J.M. Hall with my classmates and, like you, was sworn-in as a Second Lieutenant. I was a young, very green Second Lieutenant. The years for me have passed quickly…, but I still vividly recall those company grade years: the exacting missions, tough training, rapidly changing responsibilities, travel, and new assignments around the world, attendance at outstanding professional military schools, and service under remarkable leaders. Above all, I recall being part of a great team of soldiers and families. You, too, will have these same experiences. You will have wonderful memories. Soldiering is a special profession. It is demanding. It can be dangerous… in peace and war, but it is also immensely rewarding. You can be confident that VMI has prepared you well for what lies ahead.
Remember those who have gone before you from these halls. Your service will add luster to their shining accomplishments. Always remember those who will now follow in your footsteps. They will look to you as examples…as role models...display your commission on your office wall, or in your study at home…and…, and, read it with “regularity”. I do so today; I find the words are very special…and they can guide us in our daily duty. They cause us to think…and they are “uplifting”…and, most importantly, they “inform us” as to our actions in the most demanding of environments ….and when confronted with ethical situations.
I congratulate you on the attainment of a commission this morning. I could not be more proud. The Institute is proud of you. Your families are very proud. Good luck to each of you in the days ahead!