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Cheney Addresses VMI Corps of Cadets

By Sherri Tombarge

LEXINGTON, Va., Nov. 8, 2008 – One ring rose among the puffs of smoke as the Virginia Military Institute Cadet Battery fired a 19-gun salute and the Regimental Band played Ruffles and Flourishes in greeting to the vice president of the United States.

A crowd of an estimated 3,000 watched as Vice President Richard B. Cheney strode onto VMI’s Parade Ground just after 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 8, which was also VMI’s Military Appreciation Day.

VP Cheney with Regimental Staff after parade.

Vice President Cheney meets members of the regimental staff after the morning parade. 
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Photo: Kevin Remington

Introduced by VMI’s superintendent, Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III ’62, and apologizing for his laryngitis, Cheney began his address to the Corps by noting its “immense contribution in defense of the nation,” calling its tradition of honor “unshakable.”

Cheney quickly turned his attention to the current war, which, he said, began with a “heartless attack on our nation.”

In a brief nod to the recent election, Cheney said the nation remained “resolute” and that the transition of power to President-Elect Barack Obama would be “smooth and graceful.”

Applause from spectators punctuated his final remarks, including the declaration, “We will never give in to the Jihadists” and an assessment of the Corps of Cadets:  “At VMI you follow the same code of honor known to General Marshall. … You order your lives in the same manner.

“I am pleased,” he concluded, “to give you the respect of your fellow Americans.  May you always watch over the United States of America.”

This was Cheney’s third visit to the VMI Post.  He spoke on Post in 1993 and in 1996.
Remarks by Peay in introducing Cheney had noted that VMI’s annual Military Appreciation Day was particularly “fitting in this time of war.”

He urged the community to be “mindful” of the more than 1,200 VMI alumni who are or have been deployed in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and especially the 11 who have died in action.  He noted that 63 members of the Corps and nine members of the VMI faculty and staff have been deployed.

Peay also acknowledged the recent election, noting that the VMI Corps wished to thank Cheney for his service “as his last days in office near.”

Cheney and Peay took review of the Corps, and Cheney lingered afterward to talk to the cadet regimental officers.

During the parade, the VMI Pipes and Drums and Regimental Band played favorites, including “Shenandoah,” as well as the national anthem and “VMI Spirit.”

After the parade, Cheney was the guest of Peay in the superintendent’s house.  There, regimental commander Cadet 1st Capt. Zachary Youngsma ’09 presented Cheney with a crystal bowl on behalf of the Corps of Cadets.  Cheney joined Peay for lunch and then toured the Marshall Museum before departing Post in the afternoon.

Military Appreciation Day continued on Post with a pregame flyover of a B2 bomber before the afternoon football game against Liberty University in Foster Stadium.  The U.S. Army Silent Drill Team performed at halftime.