I have switched over to WordPress. I felt I needed something more powerful and have outgrown Blogger. It was good while it lasted, though.
A peek into the life of a Keydet at the Virginia Military Institute.
I have switched over to WordPress. I felt I needed something more powerful and have outgrown Blogger. It was good while it lasted, though.
Well, I thought I'd get a quick post written before my Solid Mechanics class(Oh, the fun that is Mechanical Engineering). I'm thinking of moving over to WordPress. It seems more professional and I have commenting and statistics all in one place, which is nice. And since they'll convert all of my Blogger posts, it should be easy. I'm looking into it, so nothing definite at this point.
Midwinter Formal is coming up tomorrow, so I'll probably put some pictures up when I get the chance. I want to start posting more photos on this blog. I've taken up photography as a bit of a hobby and have all kinds of subject matter to cover here at The Institute.
I have run across a couple of my Brother Rats' blogs. They've been added to the blog roll. I'm surprised it took me that long to find one of them, considering he's an electrical engineer and we've been working on our Class' website together. Speaking of which, it should be up and online shortly. I can't wait, because then we can start fussing with it and adding content. I'll keep y'all updated.
Seems I was a bit off in posting a bit o' Kipling this Friday. Can you forgive me, all 2 of you reading this blog(Hi, Mom!)?
Heh! Walk her round. Heave, ah, heave her short again!
Over, snatch her over, there, and hold her on the pawl.
Loose all sail, and brace your yards aback and full --
Ready jib to pay her off and heave short all!
Well, ah, fare you well; we can stay no more with you, my love --
Down, set down your liquor and your girl from off your knee;
For the wind has come to say:
"You must take me while you may,
If you'd go to Mother Carey
(Walk her down to Mother Carey!),
Oh, we're bound to Mother Carey where she feeds her chicks at sea!"
Heh! Walk her round. Break, ah, break it out o' that!
Break our starboard-bower out, apeak, awash, and clear!
Port -- port she casts, with the harbour-mud beneath her foot,
And that's the last o' bottom we shall see this year!
Well, ah, fare you well, for we've got to take her out again --
Take her out in ballast, riding light and cargo-free.
And it's time to clear and quit
When the hawser grips the bitt,
So we'll pay you with the foresheet and a promise from the sea!
Heh! Tally on. Aft and walk away with her!
Handsome to the cathead, now; O tally on the fall!
Stop, seize and fish, and easy on the davit-guy.
Up, well up the fluke of her, and inboard haul!
Well, ah, fare you well, for the Channel wind's took hold of us,
Choking down our voices as we snatch the gaskets free.
And it's blowing up for night,
And she's dropping light on light,
And she's snorting under bonnets for a breath of open sea,
Wheel, full and by; but she'll smell her road alone to-night.
Sick she is and harbour-sick -- Oh, sick to clear the land!
Roll down to Brest with the old Red Ensign over us --
Carry on and thrash her out with all she'll stand!
Well, ah, fare you well, and it's Ushant slams the door on us,
Whirling like a windmill through the dirty scud to lee:
Till the last, last flicker goes
From the tumbling water-rows,
And we're off to Mother Carey
(Walk her down to Mother Carey!),
Oh, we're bound for Mother Carey where she feeds her chicks at sea!
Fridays at the Mother I, as she is affectionately known, are always a great day. The week is winding to a close, and as soon as each Cadet gets finished with his or her classes, they can look forward to a short break from lectures and labs until Monday. Also, when the whether is good, there is an afternoon parade. Usually much grumbling comes from the throats of each Cadet. One more thing to fill up their already busy schedules. But still, the Corps begins preparations for Parade, except for those who have found a way out of it.
Usually poorly shaven, shoes unshined, belt drooping below the waist, the First Class Private is a master of working the system, The Game as it is referred to by Cadets and Administration alike, and the First Class Private plays the game better than anyone else. But even the most unkempt Cadet makes sure that he can shave using his shoes as a mirror, that his brass could be used to summon aircraft, his drill and rifle manual is crisp and clean, and that his feet are never out of step.
Each Cadet hopes and prays for rain, snow, even some horrible catastrophic event, just so they can hear those magical words over the turn out system: "Parade is cancelled." But to the Corps' chagrin, and despite the best efforts of the rain dancers, the only turn out to be heard is "Parade will form up at 1635 hours." You can't always get what you want and soon enough 1635(4:35 PM) rolls around and every cadet, from Hardcore Alpha to Cold Steel Charlie to Hard Charging Hotel, form up and prepare for an hour of drill and ceremonies.
After the Corps forms up, the Regimental Band begins to play and march out onto the Parade Grounds led by the Regimental Commander and his staff. The tune that can be heard throughout all of Post is a longtime VMI favorite, Oh, Shenandoah. The bagpipes echo loudly and each Keydet marches in time with the beat of the drums. Each left foot hits the ground as the the bass drum sounds. And so the Corps issues forth from the large gaping mouth that is Stonewall Jackson Arch. There is but one purpose now as they mount the field, to get through Parade and to do so well.
The companies take their places one by one, each following the lines painted onto the field the day before by the Regimental S1 Staff. The band plays on throughout this and the crowd gathers in the stands and along Letcher Avenue to watch the spectacle about to unfurl before them. People come from far and wide to watch the Corps pass in review. This day there are parents, alumni, prospective cadets, and a Boy Scout troop here to visit. They had all hoped the weather would stay dry and the rain clouds to the south would stay away for one more day. They have and it is a beautiful Friday afternoon and there isn't a cloud in the sky. The spectators stand in awe, gazing at the impressive display before them put on by "the Corps of Cadets of the Virgina Military Institute, founded on November 11, 1839. . ." as is explained by the announcer, a Cadet himself. Each movement, each command, the uniforms, and the procession are all little changed from very first days of the Institute. And it goes unmentioned that the Corps looks good, just as it always has and always will.
And now each man is in his place and everything is ready. "Faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaallll Innnn!" "Dreeeeesss and Coveeeeeerrrr!" "Reeeeeeeeport!" "Post!" These are the commands given. Then the band sounds off, playing same song it has played millions of times, marching the same path it has marched countless times. The crowd claps, thoroughly impressed, and the Superintendent takes his position. The Regimental Commander calls the Company Commanders into the center and then dismisses them. Then the Color Guard takes center stage to pay the proper respect to the Star And Stripes. The Regimental Commander then reports into the Superintendent, and the Corps follows the proper customs and courtesies. And then the fun begins.
The Corps is now drilled in proper rifle manual. "Pooooooooooort h'Arms!" "Riiight Shoooooooouldeer h'Arms!" "Leeft Shooooulder h'Arms!" "PreSENT h'Arms!" And then the Corps is led through something only it is authorized to do. "Fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiix Bayo-NETS!" Screams the Regimental S1 Captain. The Corps earned the privilege to fix bayonets during Parade by fighting as a single combat unit during the Battle of New Market.
The snare drums now start rolling a strong, steady cadence -- and then the bass drums hit. All of a sudden each Cadet moves as one and swings their rifles into place. The drums keep rolling. The next beat and the bayonets are unsheathed and placed overtop rifles. The next beat and they are locked into place. The next and the report of each Cadet slapping the side of his rifle can be heard. The next beat and each Cadet is back at the position of attention. Next comes the long-awaited command to end this day's Parade. "Paaaaaaaass Iiiiinnnn Reevieeeeeewwwwww!" Yells the Regimental Commander. Even though they are not audible, the is a mutual sigh of relief as each Cadet wants this to be over.
The Band strikes up again and plays the Corps off of the Parade Grounds as each company makes its way to march past the Superintendent. As each company passes they perform an eyes right when given the command: "Readeee! Eeeeeyyes h'Right!" The Superintendent gives a crisp salute in return as each platoon passes. When past the Superintended the Cadets snap straight-ahead as the command "Readeee. . . F'runt!" is given. This entire time they maintain proper spacing for close order drill, all while marching in step with the drums. Soon the Corps is off of the Parade Ground and the last Cadet has passed through Washington Arch and the band done playing for the day. The crowd slowly packs up, to return from whence they came, all well pleased with today's Parade. The Cadets are all back in their rooms, the Rats all straining, the First Class Privates quickly stripping off their full coatee and cross-dykes. Slowly things return to normal. And apparently the civilians weren't the only ones pleased by today's performance. A turn-out is issued: "For today's performance during Parade, the ENTIRE Corps has haydown." And Cheers echo through Barracks.
This week it's Tommy. An ode to the love of the military during times of great peril, but in good, peaceful times, the citizenry is filled with a certain antipathy towards the rough men who keep them out from under the yoke of oppression. Just some more Rudyard Kipling to start the weekend off on the right foot. Have a good one.
"I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.
I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.
Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.
We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.
You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!"
The title of this one is A Ballade of Burial. A little Kipling, if you're interested. I'm a wee bit of a fan, I hope you are, too.
"If down here I chance to die,
Solemnly I beg you take
All that is left of "I"
To the Hills for old sake's sake,
Pack me very thoroughly
In the ice that used to slake
Pegs I drank when I was dry --
This observe for old sake's sake.
To the railway station hie,
There a single ticket take
For Umballa -- goods-train -- I
Shall not mind delay or shake.
I shall rest contentedly
Spite of clamour coolies make;
Thus in state and dignity
Send me up for old sake's sake.
Next the sleepy Babu wake,
Book a Kalka van "for four."
Few, I think, will care to make
Journeys with me any more
As they used to do of yore.
I shall need a "special" brake --
'Thing I never took before --
Get me one for old sake's sake.
After that -- arrangements make.
No hotel will take me in,
And a bullock's back would break
'Neath the teak and leaden skin
Tonga-ropes are frail and thin,
Or, did I a back-seat take,
In a tonga I might spin, --
Do your best for old sake's sake.
After that -- your work is done.
Recollect a Padre must
Mourn the dear departed one --
Throw the ashes and the dust.
Don't go down at once. I trust
You will find excuse to "snake
Three days' casual on the bust."
Get your fun for old sake's sake.
I could never stand the Plains.
Think of blazing June and May
Think of those September rains
Yearly till the Judgment Day!
I should never rest in peace,
I should sweat and lie awake.
Rail me then, on my decease,
To the Hills for old sake's sake."
Many people talk about personal honor; about things like responsibility, trustworthiness, integrity, and the like, but it seems few in this day and age still abide by any kind of personal honor code. The first day as a Rat here and the Virginia Military Institute, you are taught the Honor Code and it is drilled into your head: "A Cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate those who do." The last part is usually the hardest to abide by. It goes against everything we're taught as humans to turn in our friends, even family members, when they have done wrong. We are all to willing to forgive. The clause against toleration is even harder at The Mother I. The bond between Cadets, especially Brother Rats, is so strong that many are torn between their duty to protect their BRs and to uphold the standards of the Institute, but in the end, the Honor Code wins out.
At The Institute, the Honor Code is sacred. Those found guilty of violating it are immediately excommunicated and cut-off from everything VMI-related. They are escorted off Post and what few personal effects they own are returned to them. It is the only cardinal sin, of which there is no forgiveness, no penance, no punishment with which to absolve yourself of your sins. The only retribution for putting personal gain before personal honor is swift dismissal.
The Code is guarded jealously by the Corps of Cadets, and it's chief administrators are the Honor Court. The Court consists of one President, three Vice Presidents, and two Prosecutors, all of whom are First Classmen. There are also six Assistant Prosecutors, all Second Classmen, who are the primary investigative arm of the Court. And just like any judicial body in the United States there is a jury, selected from the Corps, who make the final decision, based on the evidence presented them, on the guilt of the individual. And should that individual be found guilty, they are immediately dismissed.
Once they are dismissed, the Corps is then informed in the form of a Drum Out. In the days of the Old Corps, the guilty would be brought before the Corps and would be marched down Letcher Avenue(the main thoroughfare through Post) between a line of the Corps and out Limits Gates. But the public humiliation and shame drove far too many guilt-ridden individuals to take their lives before they should be accused of an Honor violation. Now, the Corps is awakened at 3:33 in the morning by the sound of a long drum roll and the lead drummer screaming "Death Before Dishonor!" The Honor Court then marches into the middle of the courtyard of Old Barracks and announces that the guilty has put personal gain above personal Honor and has been dismissed. Their name will never again be mentioned inside the walls of Barracks and they will never again be allowed to set foot on Post.
And while the rest of the world may crumble in its corruption and in the dishonesty of its officials, the Institute soldiers on, set in its ways and upholding those spartan values which have proven to be so important in life.
I've finally figured out what I want to name this blog: "Marching Post." This one may take some explaining, though. Here at The Institute, we have a tradition of a standing guard team 24/7 during the school year. It dates back to the days when the Institute was an active armory and was guarded by the Virginia Militia. Anyway, one of the positions on the guard team is that of the sentinels, a group of individuals who stand in the two courtyards in Barracks and watch over the Corps making sure nothing amiss transpires. This tends to be nothing more than long periods of boredom, with a few interesting occurrences interspersed throughout. That's how it seems with this website at times. It seems that I just sit here watching the goings on of the internet and really only post about the interesting things that only happen occasionally. So there you have it, the new moniker.
A wee bit of Kipling if'n you're interested. Why? Because I haven't posted in a while and I felt it fitting. Taken shamelessly from this website, which is a repository of all the poems Kipling wrote. "Kipling?" You ask. Yes, Rudyard Kipling, I'm a bit of a fan.
Gold is for the mistress -- silver for the maid --
Copper for the craftsman cunning at his trade."
"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,
"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of them all."
So he made rebellion 'gainst the King his liege,
Camped before his citadel and summoned it to siege.
"Nay!" said the cannoneer on the castle wall,
"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- shall be master of you all!"
Woe for the Baron and his knights so strong,
When the cruel cannon-balls laid 'em all along;
He was taken prisoner, he was cast in thrall,
And Iron -- Cold Iron -- was master of it all!
Yet his King spake kindly (ah, how kind a Lord!)
"What if I release thee now and give thee back thy sword?"
"Nay!" said the Baron, "mock not at my fall,
For Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of men all."
"Tears are for the craven, prayers are for the clown --
Halters for the silly neck that cannot keep a crown."
"As my loss is grievous, so my hope is small,
For Iron -- Cold Iron -- must be master of men all!"
Yet his King made answer (few such Kings there be!)
"Here is Bread and here is Wine -- sit and sup with me.
Eat and drink in Mary's Name, the whiles I do recall
How Iron -- Cold Iron -- can be master of men all!"
He took the Wine and blessed it. He blessed and brake the Bread.
With His own Hands He served Them, and presently He said:
"See! These Hands they pierced with nails, outside My city wall,
Show Iron -- Cold Iron -- to be master of men all."
"Wounds are for the desperate, blows are for the strong.
Balm and oil for weary hearts all cut and bruised with wrong.
I forgive thy treason -- I redeem thy fall --
For Iron -- Cold Iron -- must be master of men all!"
"Crowns are for the valiant -- sceptres for the bold!
Thrones and powers for mighty men who dare to take and hold!"
"Nay!" said the Baron, kneeling in his hall,
"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of men all!
Iron out of Calvary is master of men all!"
That's French, if you didn't know. For those not taken to speaking the language of the former Roman province of Gaul, the above means "Happy Father's Day," loosely translated. And that is my wish to all those fathers out there who may be reading this, and especially to my own. Here is a little history about said holiday, and contrary to popular belief it wasn't started by the greeting card companies as a gimmick to sell more cards. Who woulda thunk it?
Also, if I may, I'll point you towards Blackfive's and let you read a very inspiring story about a father's love for his son. The saga of the Hoyt family is one to really embolden the spirit, and kinda puts things into perspective. And if'n you felt the need, you could always donate to Team Hoyt over at their website. That's it for now. A happy Father's Day to all and especially to those fathers deployed away from their families.
I've been pondering recently about changing the name of this site. The Silent Republican just doesn't have the same ring to it anymore. It doesn't convey my current set of circumstances. It was quite fitting back on the Left Coast where I was quite in the political minority, and honestly gathered quite a bit of pleasure out of it, from time to time. But that's beside the point. The real problem is that I can't figure out what to change the name to. So, I pose the question to you, my faithful readers(all three of you). What should this site be called?
Already? As I'm sitting here and typing this in my new home here on the East Coast -- Charlotte, North Carolina to be exact -- tired from unpacking all of the moving boxes, I finally realized how fast time has flown. Amazing isn't it that only a year ago I was counting down the days until the end my career in government-mandated education and preparing to start college. Only ten months ago I had completed my first day as a cadet at the Virginia Military Institute. A scant five months ago I was Broken Out and finally a member of the Class of 2010; and then just last month, as of about 1400 hours on 16 May, I had officially completed my first year of college.
Now, I am living 3000 miles away from Los Angeles, California in beautiful North Carolina. I got home late on a Thursday night and was gone by Saturday afternoon, trucking down that long journey known as life. Sorry to sound a bit cliche, but it seemed to fit, what with the five days spent driving across the US of A. You really don't get a good grasp of just how huge this great land is until you drive across it.
So now begins something new; a new chapter in the story, if you will. I'll miss my friends but I was ready to move on from Los Angeles, at least that's what I tell myself. There are parts of me that will always yearn to be back in the City of Angels, in my old neighborhood, hanging out with my friends from high school. But I know that it can never be like it was before. I remember coming home from VMI over Christmas furlough and feeling like visitor in my home. It seemed like there was some great chasm between myself and all my friends. They hadn't changed a bit, but I certainly had. VMI had become my home and I had made new friends. VMI felt like home and I remember actually missing it while I was home, missing the companionship of the mutual suffering my BRs endured. But such is the way of the world, and everything changes eventually. Just to think, three years from now, I will be a college graduate all set to take on whatever challenge life sets before me.
I'm constantly amazed at how fast time flies. Next Wednesday, 16 May, is Graduation Day, the end of the 2006-2007 school year here at The Institute. It marks the end of my first year here and the end of my Dykes' time here. I'm absolutely astounded at how I've come in one year's time. So, to give you a little taste of what this first year, my Rat Year, has been like here are a few videos:
This first one was produced by an upperclassman for our Rat book.
This next one is something one of my Brother Rats put together, more comical than anything, but still a look into our sometimes absurd lives.