The Class of 1940: Why We Give
Dedication: After the Reunion Parade in April 2010, retired U.S. Army Col. Walter Edens ’40, representing his Brother Rats at their 70th reunion, climbed to the top of the Sentinel Box in Third Barracks and led the traditional “Old Yell” for his class.
It is written that “To everything there is a Season, and a time to every Purpose under the heaven.”
When the Class of 1940 was in barracks, it was the time of the Great Depression. We spent our school years being prepared by the wonderful faculty and unique instruction system to take our places in a difficult economy. Shortly after we graduated, however, World War II, already raging in China and Europe, overtook us all. Unexpectedly, the “Season” to fulfill the “Purpose” of our military training became a part of our lives.
So our great appreciation of all that VMI means to our beloved country was further forged in the crucible of the events that overtook us. As our inspiration, the graduates we knew of or were close to, such as the great George C. Marshall ’01, and his outstanding aides, Frank McCarthy ’33 and our schoolmate, Hansell Murrell Pasco ’37, were in the Pentagon, leading the nation’s military. These and many more leaders became examples to us of what VMI means to the nation.
Our love for VMI then grew beyond pride as the Institute’s value and the purposes that it serves became obvious. As a part of the great cadre of graduates, we felt a sense of responsibility to VMI, and support and loyalty to VMI became our bedrock attitudes.
This is why the Class of 1940 has been so supportive of VMI since we graduated.
– Robert Pemberton Smith ’40, Class Agent