Thursday, December 13, 2007

Commissioning day

My short trip to Virginia Tech for a discussion with campus administrators or Monday was a learning experience for me. Among the things I learned about was Virginia Tech itself. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University is one of six senior military colleges recognized under the United States Code. Virginia Tech and Texas A & M are the only two of these where a military college is embedded within a large civilian university. While VT has over 26,000 students, about 700 are members of the Corps of Cadets.

Lieutenant Colonel Bill Stringer is the Deputy Commandant of the Corps of Cadets. After my meetings on Monday, he was my ride from Blacksburg to the closest commercial airport that afternoon in Roanoke, Virginia. That's where my five-airport travel adventure began. On the 40 minute trip, he answered all my questions about the Corps of Cadets, the military colleges. I remarked that it must be incredibly gratifying for him to see these young men and women develop into military officers, and to realize he had a role in that development.

That was a real door-opener. It is, of course, one of the highlights of his long career as both an Air Force and Marine Corps officer (there's a combination for you!). Only this highlight just keeps on happening. He told me that Thursday (today) and Friday, he'd be attending the ceremonies for commissioning the cadets graduating at the end of the fall semester. He described the ceremony, and he told me how that made him feel. I didn't need much description, because that's exactly how I felt last night, as 18 men and women graduating from our academy were sworn in and commissioned as Lincoln police officers.

Every time LTC Stringer hears about an accomplishment by a Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets graduate (and there are many), he is not only proud by his association, but he feels that in some small way he owns part of each success. He contributed to it, he helped make it happen, he and his fellow staff members set the conditions up that led to the outcome--a military officer grounded in tradition, strengthened by training, imbued with strong ethics, and intellectually equipped to lead and succeed.

That is precisely how I feel whenever something like this happens, and it happens every day. Not always in such dramatic fashion, but every day nonetheless.

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